August 25, 2020

FMCSA Reports Recent Drug Testing Trends

By Christine

Almost six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the most recent Federal Motor Carriers Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse report reflects both positive and negative trends for our industry and those committed to drug-free workplaces.  

June saw a 28 percent uptick in pre-employment testing queries to the Clearinghouse, with 109,111 requests for pre-employment tests. This suggests transportation companies are hiring again and screening programs are active. In fact, according to the FMCSA report, all workplace testing queries were up in June, after trending downward in March, April and May, presumably because the coronavirus was keeping commercial drivers at home.

Unfortunately, the report also shows an increase in positive tests for drugs and alcohol in June, with 4,587 drug violations and 107 alcohol violations. Since January a total of 25,761 positives have been recorded in the Clearinghouse, with a dip in violations in April and May.

Of Note

Two additional areas of the report are of note for our industry:

  1. According to the FMCSA, thousands of drivers have refused to take tests for controlled substances since January. This number was also trending upward in June, with 635 total refusals. The vast majority of those were for drug testing.  

    It is unclear, at this point, whether these statistics reflect a fear of COVID-19 transmission during testing or a desire to defeat urinalysis. However, they may prompt an increased interest by companies in testing alternatives.

    In an article published on HDT Truckinginfo Dave Osiecki, president and CEO, Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, highlighted these findings.

    “What stuck with me was that 13 percent of pre-employment drug testing violations were refusals,” Osiecki told HDT. “Considering that, in the pre-employment context, a refusal can really only occur after the driver has been handed a urine collection cup, this number may be a good proxy for how often drivers attempt to defeat the urinalysis. This number, if it remains high, could accelerate calls for DOT approval of other testing methods like hair and oral fluid testing.”  
  2. Marijuana consistently accounts for most failed drug tests – by far. Since January, 12,867 tests have come back positive for marijuana, which was found in almost half of all tests. This is followed by Cocaine (3,868), Methamphetamine (2,593) and Amphetamine (2,479).

    Worth considering is that there were a total of 2,671 positive tests for a group of substances categorized as opioids, including synthetic opioids, such as Oxycodone, Oxymorphone and Hydrocodone. So, while Methamphetamine and Amphetamine usage numbers are significant, the drug and alcohol screening industry can’t lose sight of the continuing opioid crisis.

The June report was the second summary report published by the FMCSA. Since the Clearinghouse opened in September 2019, a total of 1,094,657, users have registered for the clearinghouse including employers and drivers as well as more than 10 thousand Consortiums and Third Party Administrators, 2,520 Medical Review Officers and 2,344 Substance Abuse Professionals.

NDASA will continue to monitor Clearinghouse trends. Please contact us at with questions or concerns you have regarding the Clearinghouse and we will work with the agency on getting our members the answers they

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