Of the three different types of drug testing – urine, oral saliva, and hair testing – which one is most effective to determine drug use?
Urine has been the “gold standard” as the most common method for drug testing across the industry, even as oral (saliva) and hair testing techniques have improved reliability over last few decades.
As we wait for Health and Human Services (HHS) to release hair testing guidelines and the Department of Transportation to adopt those guidelines for safety sensitive positions across Aviation, Commercial Motor Carriers (FMCSA), Maritime, Pipeline, Railroad, and Transit, the discussion of what type of drug testing methods are most effective is now heating up.
Unfortunately, there are many who are misguided on the strategy of when to use each drug testing method as there are pros and cons to each method and the reasons for testing.
So, let us break this down for you.
What is the most effective method for drug testing?
The problem with this question is companies are considering dropping urine for oral or hair testing for every type of reason an employee would be tested. This is misguided.
It is important to note that there are various restrictive state drug testing regulations that may prevent companies from drug testing, who they can or cannot drug test and why.
Regardless, companies need to remember the various reasons they are testing employees. These are:
- Reasonable Suspicion
- Follow-Up or Return-to-Duty
Each reason for testing has their own goals for keeping employees and assets safe.
For example, the goal of pre-employment testing is making sure your staff, especially in safety-sensitive positions, do not have a history of drug abuse. In this situation, it would be ideal to use a drug testing method that provides a longer drug use history. Conversely, for reasonable suspicion testing, a shorter drug detection window would be more effective as it can accurately find recent drug use.
Understanding which method for testing has a shorter detection window would help companies decide if that method is best for this reason.
Breaking down collection testing methods
To help make choices on which method of testing is best for your company and reason for testing, we need to break down and compare urine, hair, and oral saliva testing into:
- Detection Window
- Collection Time
- Turnaround Time
- Ideal Reason for Testing
|Urine Testing||Oral (Saliva) Testing||Hair Testing|
|Regulated||HHS + DOT||Pending HHS + DOT||Pending HHS + DOT|
|Detection Window||2 – 7 days||8 – 48 hours, short detection window||7 – 90 days, long detection window|
|Collection Time||10+ min depending on if donor did not provide enough sample||15 minutes, non-invasive||5 minutes, less invasive|
|Turnaround Time||24-48 hours||24-72 hours||24-72 hours|
|Ideal Reason for Testing||Suitable for all testing reasons||Reasonable Suspicion & post-accident testing program||Post-accident, reasonable suspicion, pre-employment, and random testing program|
Now that we understand the pros and cons to each method of drug testing, let us dive into which method is most effective for the reasons a company would drug test.
Urine testing: As the most common testing method, urine testing can detect recent use, between one to three days and is suitable for all testing reasons and types of drugs being tested.
Oral saliva testing: Mouth swab testing is the least invasive method of testing and can detect recent drug use within the first few hours to 48 hours. This makes oral testing the best testing method for both reasonable suspicion and post-accident testing.
Hair testing: Using hair samples from the body is the only method of drug testing that can detect drugs and alcohol in the system from a week to 90+ days, unlike urine testing, which only detects drugs and alcohol up to 7 days. In recent statistics from Quest, hair testing provides nearly twice the number of positives drug tests than urine testing due to its longer detection time-frame and is the best option for a pre-employment or random testing program.
When looking at updating your company drug testing policies, we believe a mix in methods is the most beneficial in your drug testing programs. Again, it is important to note that there are various restrictive state drug testing regulations that may prevent companies from drug testing, who they can or cannot test and why.
Drug and Alcohol Services
At CNS, we offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).
Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers, updating your company drug testing policies, record retention and document purge management.
We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.
Data shows that even a 10 mph increase in speed ups the risk of a crash by 9.1%.
During Operation Safe Driver Week, law enforcement agencies across North America engage in heightened traffic safety enforcement and education aimed at combating unsafe driving behaviors by both commercial motor vehicle and passenger-vehicle drivers.
According to CVSA, activities are held across the United States, Canada and Mexico with the goal of increasing commercial vehicle and non-commercial vehicle traffic enforcement, safety belt enforcement, driver roadside inspections and driver regulatory compliance.
“Late won’t kill you, speeding will.”
The focus area for Operation Safe Driver Week is speeding.
Speeding continues to be the number one cited driver-related factor in highway fatal crashes and was a factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities in 2018, killing 9,378 people or an average of more than 25 people per day.
In 2018, NHTSA showed that speeding was a contributing factor in 26 percent of all traffic fatalities and just under 10,000 lives were lost due to speeding.
Past Operation Safe Driver Week Stats
Last year’s Operation Safe Driver Week saw 14,378 passenger vehicle drivers and 2,339 commercial motor vehicle drivers receive citations for speeding.
In 2019, 16,102 passenger vehicle drivers and 1,454 commercial motor vehicle drivers received citations for speeding.
During 2018’s Operation Safe Driver Week, 16,909 passenger vehicle drivers and 1,908 commercial motor vehicle drivers were issued citations for speeding.
The top citations that passenger and CMV drivers receive are for:
- Violating State/Local Laws
- Failing to use a seat belt
- Failure to obey a traffic control device
- Using a handheld phone
- Inattentive and/or careless driving
What will law enforcement look for?
Law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers engaging in speeding and unsafe driving behaviors and will be pulling over drivers to issue a warning and/or citation.
- failure to use a seat belt
- reckless or aggressive driving
- distracted driving
- following too closely
- improper lane change
- failure to obey traffic control devices, and
- evidence of drunk or drugged driving
Failure to wear a seatbelt was the second highest violation for both types of drivers and buckling up is the single most effective thing vehicle drivers and passengers can do to protect themselves in the event of a crash.
A study in 2014 shows that issuing citations does influence driver behavior, with just a 1 percent increase in citations leading to a 28 percent reduction in motor vehicle crashes.
This reduction in crashes is a major reason law enforcement has backed and promoted CVSA’s focus on speeding and the message, “Late won’t kill you, speeding will.”
We break down the plan that will likely affect the trucking and transportation industries the most
President Joe Biden revealed the first half of his $4 trillion infrastructure plan. The plan announced, called the American Jobs Plan, is estimated to cost $2.3 trillion. The second half of the infrastructure plan covering “human infrastructure” is likely to be announced in May and is anticipated to cost around $1.7 trillion.
According to Biden, the American Jobs Plan is a 15-year vision that will generate 3-5 million new jobs and spend the $2 trillion over the next 8 years to improve our “crumbling infrastructure,” currently ranked 13th in the world.
The plan focuses on a balance between current transportation, roads, and household issues while preparing for a more electrified future.
While Biden wants the plan to be bipartisan, as he will bring in Republicans to the White House to discuss the details, he also wants to get this done. It is estimated that a version of this plan will potentially pass around August or September and may go through budget reconciliation to get passed.
We break down the plan that will likely affect the trucking and transportation industries the most.
Transportation = $621B
- $115B will go towards bridges, highways, roads, and $20B for road safety
- Will address about 20,000 miles of roads
- Replace the top 10 most economically significant bridges, and
- Repair around 10,000 bridges
- $85B for Public Transportation for new rail cars and transportation to connect cities within and into cities
- $80B for Amtrak
- $25B for Airports
- $17B for Ports, waterways, and ferries
Electric Vehicles = $174B
- This will include tax incentives and rebates to push buying American-made cars
- An estimated 500,000 charging stations by 2030, and
- Electrifying buses and federal vehicles
Electric Grid = $100B
- Make grid more resilient
- Includes 10-year extension and phase down of an expanded refundable investment tax credit and production tax credit for renewable energy generation and storage
- Higher labor standards
- 100% carbon pollution free power by 2035
- $16B will go towards abandoned mines and gas wells
Corporate Tax Hikes to include:
- 15% minimum tax on corporate profits (to prevent businesses like Amazon who may have zero tax on profits currently)
- Increase corporate tax rate to 28%
Workforce = $100B
- Workforce development, including apprenticeships and assistance for those who have lost their jobs
- Create hundreds of thousands of jobs across multiple industries
The bill will also include a trillion dollars to go towards manufacturing, broadband, carbon capture, clean water, households, and schools/children incentives.
The second half of Biden’s infrastructure plan will focus around $1.7 billion to go towards social/human infrastructure. This is likely to include expanding the child tax credit, school infrastructure, free community college, universal pre-kindergarten, helping the underserved communities, and more.
For a few more details of the American Jobs Plan, you can check out the White House Fact Sheet on the proposed plan.
Warm spring weather is just around the corner, and that means Spotted Lanternfly nymphs will begin hatching. This typically happens around mid-May, so there’s still time for two important projects – scraping egg masses and getting your circle traps ready.
Egg masses can literally be anywhere, as the adult lanternfly are pretty sneaky! Good places to look are on trees along the edges of forested land, on wooden or metal posts, the underside of patio furniture and in the wheel wells of vehicles that might not have moved over winter.
In March, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced that eight counties have been added to Pennsylvania’s Spotted Lanternfly quarantine zone, which now includes 34 counties, ahead of the 2021 spring hatch.
Spotted Lanternflies can potentially hitch a ride on products and vehicles, thus moving into a new area and spreading the infestation. So, businesses who ship products inside and out of quarantined zones are required to have a Spotted Lanternfly Permit.
These permits demonstrate the businesses have working knowledge of this pest and the best practices to prohibit its spread.
Every Pennsylvanian needs to keep their eyes peeled for signs of this bug, scrape every egg mass, squash every bug, and report every sighting.
The new eight counties include:
Last spring Pennsylvania quarantined 12 counties with isolated infestations, and those counties have not been overrun because of the heightened awareness a quarantine brings. With continued aggressive treatment and monitoring, and an actively engaged community, we can help ensure families and businesses in these new counties are not inconvenienced by widespread infestation.
Currently the following counties are under quarantine in Pennsylvania:
There are also quarantine counties or zones in the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia.
It is time to begin spring inspections
If you suspended inspections during the winter months, April 1st marks the day to begin inspections for the year.
- Inspections should be completed before:
- Documentation is required and must:
- Identify the person conducting the inspection
- Demonstrate an inspection was performed to prevent spread of the pest
- Show the control measures taken if live SLF were found (e.g. destruction of SLF)
- There is no required template for vehicle inspections.
- If possible, incorporate SLF inspections into existing activities, such as daily inspections or safety checks, rather than keeping additional logs.
- Examples of inspection logs can be found on the PDA SLF Business web page.
- Electronic records are acceptable if you can make them available during a verification checkpoint or audit.
Check out the program FAQs for more details.
Permit Renewal Information
All Pennsylvania SLF permit holders should have a permit with an 11-digit permit number preceded by PA, e.g. PA-20190400045.
Permits are free, but online training is required to obtain them. Managers and/or supervisors who demonstrate working knowledge and understanding of this insect and the quarantine requirements may obtain a permit.
A renewal notice and a replacement paper permit were sent to all permit holders who were originally issued hangtags and/or decals. If you have not received your paper permit, please email email@example.com.
- The new paper permit is valid until the permit holder receives a renewal notification. This timeframe may exceed one year. Renewal notifications will be sent via email or letter.
- No additional training is required at this time.
- Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) no longer issues hangtags or decals.
If you have not received your permit or gone through the required training, CNS is trained on the Spotted Lanternfly Permit requirements.
“Look Before You Leave” – Best Practices for Containing Spotted Lanternflies
When driving in and out of quarantined areas, drivers should inspect vehicles before moving. Other tips for avoiding unintentional spread of this insect include these strategies:
- don’t park in or under tree lines
- keep windows rolled up
- know the life stages of the spotted lanternfly
- know the spotted lanternfly season and when to look for these insects
- report sightings of the spotted lanternfly
- Destroy any you find. Watch: How To Remove Spotted Lanternfly Eggs. Remember that every egg mass you scrape removes 30-50 lanternfly from the population!
How Can CNS help?
CNS is trained on the Spotted Lanternfly Permit requirements from the PA Department of Agriculture. We offer training for your drivers to identify and help contain and eventually stop the spread of this insect.
The CNS course is a 35-45 min training. Please note a supervisor from your company will still be required to take the permitting course from the Penn State Extension Website.
As a truck driver, chances are you will face a vehicle breakdown, and nothing can be more frustrating and hazardous than being stuck on the side of the road.
In an emergency, you may have no choice but to stop in a dangerous place, which is why every truck driver needs to know what to do when dealing with a vehicle breakdown.
We will quickly cover the three most common causes of a vehicle breakdown, how to prevent them, and what steps a driver should take when dealing with a vehicle breakdown.
Thorough daily inspections will reduce the chance of having a breakdown
The most important factor to reduce vehicle maintenance issues is conducting thorough pre-trip, post-trip, and on-route vehicle inspections on your truck and trailer.
Vehicle breakdowns can range from complications with tires, batteries, air leaks, running out of fuel, brakes, filters and additives, hoses, starters, alternators, lights, belts, sensors, and more.
The three of the most common issues are caused by tires, batteries, and brakes.
In the summer, you can expect most tire failures during the hottest time of day. If a tire is worn or compromised, hot roads will accelerate its wear and lead to failure.
A leading cause for tire blowouts is road hazards and underinflated tires are more prone to penetration. Unfortunately, a tire blowout can cause secondary damage that may increase repair costs and downtime.
In high heat, checking your tire pressure and wear during pre-trip inspections is critical. Remember, tires are designed to be porous and will lose about three pounds of air pressure each month.
During your daily inspections, be sure to check tire pressure, tread depth, and look for any worn sidewalls or objects in the tires.
Truck batteries face different problems during the summer and winter months. In the summer, the heat can kill batteries 33% faster than in colder temperatures. In the winter, jumpstarts increase by almost 50%.
To minimize the need of jumpstarts, make sure that everything in the truck in turned off. Leaving your lights on or refrigerator plugged in can lead to unnecessary problems.
If a high draw on the battery happened recently, be sure to let the truck run for several minutes to let the alternator charge the batteries.
If the truck has been sitting for a few days, part way through the layoff be sure to start the truck and let it run for a while to keep the batteries charged.
Brake violations and often the most frequent violation in roadside inspections. To prevent a vehicle breakdown due to brakes, regularly check the brake adjustment with the slack adjuster.
During your daily inspections, check to make sure brake chamber air lines are secure, able to flex, not leaking, free of mechanical damage and the seals on the glad hands and trailer side are in good condition.
What to do when a breakdown occurs
Eventually, all truck drivers will face a breakdown and must pull over on the side of the road. Below are 10 steps on what to do when a vehicle breakdown occurs.
- When pulling off the road, go for the widest part of the road you can find or pull over on an offramp versus the shoulder of a highway.
- When pulling over, turn on the flashers, and watch your mirrors to monitor the traffic behind you.
- Ease off the road slowly versus a hard turn to the side of the road.
- Once parked as far off the road as possible, exit the side of the cab away from road traffic, set up your flares and/or orange triangles behind the truck at 50 feet, 100 feet, and 150 feet, and put on a high-visibility vest if you have one.
- If pulled over on a hill, be sure to chock the wheels.
- Open the hood of your truck to indicate that you are broken down and will not be moving anytime soon.
- Determine what caused the problem and whether you need roadside assistance or you can limp to the nearest repair facility.
- If you have a dispatcher, call them to explain your situation so they can inform the customer that your load may be delayed, and see if there is a mechanic in the shop that can advise you on what to do next.
- Contact your truck insurance carrier for roadside assistance, if covered.
- No matter what, stay alert when pulled over on the shoulder of a road and remain in the vehicle as much as possible if waiting for roadside assistance.
DOT Training and Safety Meetings
Our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person, or online training courses for the specific needs or weaknesses of your company, including daily pre and post-trip inspections.
Fleet management and driver training education is a very valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet and compliant safety practices.
Our trainers can tailor training to your specific operation.
Pedigree’s “Digital Library” add-on allows managers to upload, assign files by driver, vehicle, trailer, carrier, and send documents crucial to a fleet’s daily operation straight to a driver’s tablet including licenses, medical cards, and more.
Fleets, regulatory agencies, and states have been using technology to automate tasks and focus on paperless or contactless solutions since the pandemic started.
ELD providers, like Pedigree Technologies OneView, have taken advantage of this trend by offering a digital library solution that replaces the need for in-cab paper permit book binders.
Permit books have annoyed drivers for many years as roadside enforcement have caught drivers with misplaced or expired credentials and important documents.
As the latest time-saving OneView solution, the Digital Library add-on allows businesses to boost productivity, avoid fines, and communicate more clearly.
This tool allows managers to upload and send documents crucial to a fleet’s daily operation straight to a driver’s tablet including licenses, medical cards, and more.
Now drivers will not get stuck on the road without the proper documentation ever again with the need-to-know information right at their fingertips.
The Digital Library tool allows companies to easily store and manage the digital distribution of documents, images, and other files relevant to their daily operations – making important files available to drivers in-cab, when they need them most.
No matter the fleet size, the tool will be able to upload and assign files by driver, vehicle, trailer, carrier, and region.
Important in-cab documents needed at roadside or while on the road
Required in-cab documents depend on what you are driving, where you can travel, and what technologies you are using.
Important truck and trailer documents include:
- truck and trailer registration
- proof of annual maintenance inspection
- IFTA license
- HAZMAT permits
- over dimension permits
- and more
Depending on what state you travel through, there could be important state registration or certificates, such as:
- intra-state authorities
- Kentucky’s carrier vehicle inventory list for heavy vehicles
- New Jersey’s business registration
- New Mexico’s weight distance tax permit for heavy vehicles, or
- New York’s highway use tax registration
Then there are the technology documents that may always be required to be in the truck. This would include a copy of your ELD telematic device instructions or errors guide. Though not required, it would be good to have a digital copy of instructions for in-cab cameras or other fleet management solutions.
Other important documents could be stored as well, including:
- a driver’s medical card
- maintenance information
- collision instructions
- important phone numbers
- current bills of lading
- company policies
- driver training tools
- and more
Is it time to switch ELD providers?
With popular ELD companies facing public scrutiny to the transition away from 3G devices, it is a good time to make sure you are using ELDs that match your fleet’s needs and using the data to your advantage.
We have searched high and low for a partner in the telematics and ELD industry and have turned to Pedigree Technologies as a trusted brand striving to offer a best-in-class ELD solution with OneView.
CNS can also help with all your licensing and permitting needs. No matter what state you are in, your size (from one vehicle to a thousand vehicles), nor the complexity of your operation, we here at CNS can handle it.
According to the CDC vaccine tracker, over 110 million doses have been delivered across the country and nearly 83 million administered. This is compared to last Christmas when 9.5 million doses were distributed and over 1 million doses were administered.
The only way to truly get ahead of the pandemic and back to normal life is scientifically approved vaccines to be distributed across the globe.
President Biden on March 2nd said that there will be enough vaccines available for all adults in the U.S. by the end of May, two months earlier than he had previously anticipated.
This is thanks to a third vaccine approved by the FDA from Johnson & Johnson as rival pharmaceutical company Merck teams up to help.
All three FDA-approved vaccines are safe and highly effective in preventing “very serious illness and death,” according to the director of the White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.
As more vaccines become FDA-approved, distribution is becoming more complex.
- Johnson & Johnson had made nearly four million doses for immediate distribution and is expected to deliver 20 million doses by the end of March and 100 million doses by summer.
- Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, without the supplement from Merck, are scheduled to supply enough doses in the U.S. in March to vaccinate about 80 million people.
- In April, enough doses will be supplied for 125 million people, assuming shots from AstraZeneca PLC and Novavax Inc. are effective and approved by the FDA.
- By the end of May, the U.S. may have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to fully vaccinate all 210,000 million adults 18-and-older in the U.S.
To transport and deliver these vaccines, the Pfizer vaccine is required to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius and the Moderna vaccine to be kept at -20 degrees Celsius.
For Johnson & Johnson, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said “this vaccine does not need to be kept in a freezer and can be stored at refrigerated temperatures, so it is easy to transport and store and allows for expanded availability in most community settings and mobile sites, as supply scales up.”
For truckers, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should make it easier for truck drivers who find it hard to return to the same location at a specific date and time for two vaccine doses.
How fleets are managing vaccine robberies across the world
Covid-19 vaccines on the black market are already selling for $200 or more per dose and in the coming months, billions of doses will be distributed across the world.
With that cargo worth tens of billions of dollars, the vaccine rollout poses the biggest security challenge in a generation for freight haulers.
The packages, containing 1,000 to 5,000 doses, will be shipped by air to major distribution hubs and then delivered by trucks to hospitals, outpatient clinics, community vaccination locations and pharmacies.
Some freight companies are using GPS tracking technology on shipments, digital locks on their trucks that can only be opened remotely, extra driver training on how to respond to attacks on cargo, pallets of vials are unmarked and sometimes escorted by armed guards.
All these efforts are to protect drivers, ensure vaccines are delivered safely, and doses can get into the arms of as many people as possible so life can get back to normal.
Are you worried about the health of your employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
CNS Occupational Medicine offers services to contribute to your company’s Return to Work Plan, including pre-shift screenings, which test employees as they come into work before starting their shifts. Risking the health or your employees and your business is not worth it.
- Pre-hire screenings
- Pre-employment DOT Physicals and Hazwoper Physicals
- Audiometric testing
- Respiratory/Spirometry Physicals
- Drug and alcohol testing programs
- OSHA compliant services
- Flu Vaccinations
- Antibody Testing
- COVID-19 PCR Tests (99.9% accuracy, 24-48 hour turnaround)
- Rapid Antigen Testing
- COVID-19 Vaccine
- and more
Start your customized health plan to meet your business needs and keep your employees healthy and safe.
However, the minister of transport just announced that there will be no hard enforcement in the beginning due to the country’s difficulty in certifying ELD devices.
To date, there are no third-party tested and certified devices listed on Transport Canada’s website.
“This will give sufficient time for the industry to obtain and install certified electronic logging devices without penalty as of June 12, 2021,” Alghabra said in a statement issued March 2. “Early enforcement measures will consist of education and awareness.”
Cross border carriers and U.S. ELD manufacturers have raised concerns over whether U.S. devices approved for use in the U.S. will also be acceptable to Canadian authorities.
ELD providers must not only invest in changes to meet these new requirements but also pay an expensive fee ($50,000+) to an independent certification facility for each hardware variant.
What is an ELD or electronic logging device?
Commercial driver fatigue is a long-standing road safety issue that the United States has addressed through the use of ELDs.
The Canadian mandate closely follows the U.S. rules and operability requirements, but each mandate has unique variations that drivers and carriers across both countries must be aware of to remain productive and profitable.
There are many advantages to using ELDs, but the main purpose is to ensure that commercial drivers remain within their daily driving limit and accurately log their working hours. If commercial drivers are not within the regulated limit, there may be fines associated with the violation.
The use of ELDs also reduces administrative burdens, such as eliminating the need for paper daily logs and reducing the time enforcement officers need to verify regulatory compliance.
These new electronic logs for truckers are aligned with the United States road safety regulations and will support economic growth, trade, and transportation on both sides of the border.
After extensive research and consultation, Transport Canada has implemented a third-party certification process will be put in place to ensure that the electronic logging devices will be accurate and reliable.
Other important facts about the Canadian ELD mandate:
- Transport Canada is committed to aligning with vehicle regulations in the United States.
- Aligning Canadian and US electronic logging device regulations will allow Canadian and US operators to use the same logging device in both countries.
- ELD data transfers are different as Canadian regulations require carriers to send detailed log reports in PDF format and for a longer period of time (14 days vs. 8 days in the US) and, at inspection, drivers will transfer logs directly to officers not to a centralized database.
- Canadian-certified ELDs must be capable of notifying the driver at least 30 minutes in advance of reaching any duty-/driving-hour limitation.
- Transport Canada estimates that requiring the use of electronic logs for truckers will reduce the risk of fatigue-related collisions by approximately 10 percent.
ELD Questions? Our ELD Specialist can assist
There are multiple options to fit the needs of today’s fleet, and when it comes to compliance and the ability to expand to do more, there is no better solution than ELD Chrome, built on the award-winning OneView platform from Pedigree Technologies.
Pedigree Technologies’ OneView is preparing to have their ELD system ready and fully compliant for the Canadian ELD mandate starting on June, 12, 2021.
With over 12 years of experience in the ELD business (formerly AOBRDs), Pedigree Technologies has developed the most compliant, intuitive, and reliable solutions on the market. Drivers and fleet managers alike appreciate the ease of use and the superior support they receive.
Simplified and practical ELD, HOS, and DVIR management with IFTA management option, critical data recording, and automated reports, save office staff time while reducing errors and improving accuracy. ELD Chrome eliminates the need for paper logs and inspections by recording all data electronically, tracking (HOS) to meet FMCSA regulations, and reducing manual paperwork. It also offers the ability to expand beyond ELD, giving you both compliance and access to additional OneView applications.”
One of the most difficult things about reasonable suspicion testing for supervisors is the fear of being wrong when “accusing” an employee of using drugs or alcohol, but the profound impact on safety, well-being and productivity may outweigh those fears.
With the continued rise of the opioid epidemic amplified with the pandemic, marijuana legalization across the nation, and changes to DOT testing regulations, managers need to refresh themselves on the requirements and the importance of reasonable suspicion to keep the workplace safe.
Supervisors often fear being sued or having a labor grievance action brought against them because of their decision to conduct a reasonable suspicion test.
These fears can be minimized if supervisors remember that requiring an employee to submit to a reasonable suspicion test is not an accusation of drug or alcohol use, nor is it an attempt to diagnose substance abuse or addiction. Rather, it is a method for “ruling out” a possible cause or explanation for employee behavior or appearance that is cause for concern.
Federal (DOT) Regulations Around Reasonable Suspicion
Reasonable Suspicion Training is for supervisors and managers of any employee covered by company’s drug and alcohol policy, human resource managers or DERs, upper management, or anyone else responsible for safety within the company.
For the FMCSA, PHMSA, FTA:
- They must complete at least 2 hours of supervisor training—one hour on signs and symptoms associated with drug use and one hour on signs and symptom associated with alcohol misuse.
- For owner operators, if the wife is doing your books and manages while you are on the road, she should need this training. If the husband and wife both drive, they would both need the training as they are supervising while the other drives.
Even if the reasonable suspicion test cannot be conducted, the employer is still required to remove any employee from safety-sensitive duties whose behavior or appearance is indicative of being under the influence of or impaired by alcohol or drugs.
What is Reasonable Suspicion?
Reasonable suspicion is described as a set of circumstances that give you reason to conduct a “fitness for duty” assessment of an employee based on objective observations.
The suspicion is based on observations of the individual employee. It is not a generalized belief or “gut feeling” about a group or category of employees based on such characteristics as dress, ethnicity, age, or occupation. A reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch; it is a rational conclusion drawn from objective observations of the individual over a period of time.
Many people can confuse reasonable suspicion and probable cause, and there is a difference between the two. Probable cause generally implies that there is evidence to support a probable conclusion—e.g., drug or alcohol use. Reasonable suspicion leaves room for an action to “rule out” or eliminate a particular cause for the observed phenomenon. In other words, the reasonable suspicion test is used as much to determine that alcohol or drugs are not the cause of the observed behavior or appearance, as it is to prove that alcohol or drugs is the causative agent.
The supervisor’s role is to:
- identify the specific observations of employee behavior or appearance that justify a reasonable suspicion test,
- confront the employee concerning the requirement to undergo reasonable suspicion testing, and
- fully explain the consequences of the employee’s refusal to comply.
Reasonable suspicion testing is used to determine that alcohol or drugs are not the cause of the observed behavior or appearance. Drug testing is a mechanism to determine if the employee has used a prohibited drug; regardless of when, or what amount.
The overall goal of Reasonable Suspicion Training is to protect public and workplace safety by ensuring the removal of employees from safety sensitive duties when their behavior and appearance indicate possible illegal drug use or alcohol misuse.
Basically, it gives a company eyes and ears throughout the workforce, with supervisors acting as the frontline defense for workplace safety.
The supervisor’s responsibility is to be alert to changes in the employee’s behavior and/or appearance, not to a specific set of symptoms associated with each drug or drug class.
Deciding that a reasonable suspicion test is necessary involves the supervisor’s specific interaction with the employee and should always be made based on current information. In the absence of current signs and symptoms, a reasonable suspicion drug test would generally not be merited on a past incident.
DOT Training and Safety Meetings
To teach you what the regulations say about how to handle reasonable suspicion, the process and documentation required, and tips to make sure you stay in compliance with those rules, our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person, or online training courses for the specific needs or weaknesses of your company, including Reasonable Suspicion Training for managers.
Fleet management and driver training education is a very valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet and compliant safety practices.
Our trainers can tailor training to your specific operation.
In January, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced they will be exploring further flexibility for team drivers by evaluating 6/4 and 5/5 sleeper berth split options in a new pilot program.
According to FMCSA Deputy Administrator, Wiley Deck, “gathering more data on split-sleeper flexibility will benefit all CMV stakeholders.”
Last year, the hours-of-service rules were revised to allow team drivers to choose to spend only seven hours in the sleeper berth instead of eight as drivers can split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 or a 7/3 split.
While this did not change the 14-hour driving window, the FMCSA hopes this will reduce driver temptations to speed or operate unsafely because their workday is ending.
“FMCSA continues to explore ways to provide flexibility for drivers, while maintaining safety on our roadways. This proposed pilot program will provide needed data and feedback for the agency to use now and in the future,” said Deck.
As part of the pilot program, FMCSA will collect driver metrics, such as crashes, fatigue levels, caffeine consumption and duty status for the duration of the study and analyze participants’ safety performance, but the data collected does not guarantee the agency will go forward with the proposed rulemaking.
FMCSA will provide systems and devices to participants for:
- Driver record of duty status
- Video-based monitoring system
- Roadside violations data
- Wrist actigraphy data to evaluate sleep and wake times
- Psychomotor vigilance test data for driver’s behavioral alertness based on reaction times
- Subjective sleep ratings to measure driver fatigue levels
- Driver sleep logs
The program, of around 200-400 drivers from all fleet sizes, will start with 90 days using the current HOS regulations followed by at least 6 to 12 months to collect data from driver participants operating under a temporary exemption from current HOS and allowed to split time as 6/4 and 5/5.
While we wait over a year for the data to be collected and analyzed, it begs the question of why not just use a simpler solution and do what the proposed rule changes for the last three years has included—the use of the sleeper berth to stop the 14-hour clock for up to three hours.
According to one driver, “Instead, the FMCSA went with the split sleeper berth option for flexibility. The problem with that is figuring the remaining available hours from the first rest period. It is all very confusing and the ELD system we use does not automatically calculate those hours. The driver shows HOS violations until the ten hours is met. Now they want to waste money on the 6/4 and 5/5 split? In typical government fashion they are wasting money on studies and making it more difficult than it needs to be. Simply stop the clock when in the sleeper berth for up to three hours. Simple.”
Only time, and the data collected, will tell if more flexibility will come to the split sleeper berth hours-of-service rules.