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Feds to strengthen truck driver drug testing rules

There can be no doubt that driving a semi-truck is a dangerous job. Even on the best days, truck drivers face near-continuous risks from road conditions, weather and other drivers.

Under these circumstances, even a small error can have devastating consequences. There simply isn't any room for a truck driver who isn't on the top of his or her game.

It is for this reason that the federal government is pushing new rules to strengthen drug testing requirements for drivers of commercial vehicles.

Drug testing is currently required

Currently, all truck drivers must pass a pre-employment drug screening. Drivers are also subject to drug tests at random intervals, and after some types of crashes. In addition, if there is a reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she can be tested immediately.

Drivers who fail their drug test, or who refuse to take a drug test, must complete a government-mandated return-to-work program before they will be allowed to drive a commercial vehicle again.

New rules will give greater knowledge of failed tests

The new rule wouldn't add any additional drug-testing requirements. However, it would require employers (including self-employed truck drivers) to report testing results to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Reporting would be required whenever a driver failed a test, or refused to take one.

The data will be put into a searchable database. Employers will be required to query the database whenever making a new hire, so that they can see whether the driver has ever had a drug test violation.

In addition, employers will be required to query the database annually for existing drivers. Workers are free to refuse consent, but they will not be able to drive if they do not agree.

In addition to testing violations, the database can reveal whether drivers have had citations for DUI or driving under the influence of drugs. It will also reveal whether they have completed a return-to-work program after a violation.

All will be safer as a result

The new rule is set to go into effect on August 29, 2016. It will undoubtedly make Colorado's roads safer. Intoxicated drivers, whether they're behind the wheel of a big-rig or a sedan, are one of the biggest threats to any motorist.

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