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Federal Trucking Safety Expert:
NTSB Takes Commercial Driver Drug Use Head On!

The NTSB Sends Recommendations to the FMCSA

Truck Driver Safety Expert Witness / Truck Accident Expert Witness Articles

By Scott Greene

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) took a multiple steps to reduce the use of synthetic marijuana and other related substances by commercial motor vehicle drivers. The NTSB sent recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as well as to two major trucking organizations.


FMCSA Logo - Trucking Regulations Expert WitnessCommercial Driver Drug Use Attacked Head On!

The recommendation to the FMCSA asks the organization to begin studying how many drivers are using synthetic marijuana and related substances. According to the NTSB, synthetic marijuana is an impairing substance that appears to have widespread use among truck drivers. The NTSB wants other impairing substances which may be abused by commercial drivers identified as well. The NTSB wants FMCSA to study the abuse and draft a plan to reduce the use of these driver impairing substances.

The NTSB also reached out to the trucking industry for help. The organizations it contacted include among others: the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which is based in Arlington, Virginia, and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) which is headquartered in Greenbelt, Maryland. It asked the organizations to educate their members about the dangers of synthetic drug use. It also asked the organizations to develop methods to prevent commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers from using them.

The NTSB wants the FMCSA to work trucking industry leaders and stakeholders to develop a plan to help motor carriers address their drivers’ use of driver impairing substances. The NTSB wants to include substances which are not covered under current FMCSA motor carrier and driver drug testing guidelines.

Currently drug testing must be done before a driver can qualify to operate a CMV according to section 382.301 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. In addition, post-crash drug tests are required as part of 382.303.

Current federal law prohibits operation of a CMV while impaired. However, the current FMCSRs only require testing for a few impairing substances. The NTSB seeks to expand the list of substances.

“Motor carriers need to know about this emerging class of drugs, and they need better tools to detect driver impairment,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart.

All of these recommendations follow the investigation of a deadly truck and bus crash which killed four and seriously injured five. The crash occurred in Oklahoma when a tractor-trailer struck a bus carrying the North Central Texas College softball team. The NTSB  and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol investigated the bus accident and the organizations indicate the truck driver was likely under the influence of synthetic marijuana.

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