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Positive Drug Tests in the Driver Workforce Hit 10-year High

Positive Drug Test Heat Map of United States

Newly released data show that trucking and other safety-sensitive workforces have the highest drug-positive test rates in a decade. The positivity increases are driven primarily by cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

The data also show the four common opioids that the U.S. DOT added last year in urine testing — hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone — have a higher positivity rate than the two opioids that were previously being tested — codeine and morphine.

The following data is a summary of a recent report compiled from 10 million U.S. drug tests conducted by Quest Diagnostics, a large medical lab. Many of Quest Diagnostics’ clients have safety-sensitive workforces that have federally required drug testing, including pilots, bus and truck drivers.


In the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce, for which only urine testing is permitted, cocaine positivity increased by eleven percent (0.28 percent in 2016 versus 0.31 percent in 2017). This is the third consecutive year of increases in this workforce segment.

A new pattern emerged in this year’s analysis, with cocaine positivity in urine testing increasing significantly in certain states among the general U.S. workforce. Double-digit year-over-year increases in at least four of the five past years were seen in the states of Nebraska (91 percent), Idaho (88 percent), Washington (31 percent), Nevada (25 percent), Maryland (22 percent), and Wisconsin (13 percent).


Urine Testing

In the general U.S. Workforce between 2013 and 2017, methamphetamine positivity rates increased 167 percent in the East North Central division of the Midwest; 160 percent in the East South Central division of the South; 150 percent in the Middle Atlantic division of the Northeast; and 140 percent in the South Atlantic division of the South.

The percentage increase in these four U.S. Census divisions ranged between nine percent and 25 percent between 2016 and 2017.

Quest Diagnostics has created this map that shows positivity by state and compared to the national average.


Overall, marijuana positivity continued its five-year upward trajectory in urine testing for both the general U.S. workforce and the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce. Marijuana positivity increased four percent in the general U.S. workforce (2.5 percent in 2016 versus 2.6 percent in 2017) and nearly eight percent in the safety-sensitive workforce (0.78 percent versus 0.84 percent).

Increases in positivity rates for marijuana were most striking in states that have enacted recreational use statues since 2016. The increases in marijuana positivity for safety-sensitive workers increased by 39 percent in Nevada, 20 percent in California, and 11 percent in Massachusetts.

“These increases are similar to the increases we observed after recreational marijuana use statues were passed in Washington and Colorado,” said Barry Sample, PhD, senior director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics.

Prescription opiates

Nationally, the prescription opiate positivity rate dropped by double digits on a national basis for the general U.S. workforce in urine drug testing. The rate declined 17 percent between 2016 and 2017 (0.47 percent versus 0.39 percent).

Prescription Pills

The Trucking Alliance says hair sample tests will better screen for opioid use among truck driver applicants.

Prescription opiate testing for safety-sensitive transportation workers covered under U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rules went into effect in January 2018. Based on four months of data in 2018, Sample says the positivity rate for hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone are “certainly higher by large multiple” compared to the positivity rate for codeine and morphine.

The additional four prescription opiates being tested are not more impairing nor more addicting than morphine, he says. Quest Diagnostics and other laboratories refer positive test results to a medical review officer (MRO). The MRO will then determine if the driver has a valid prescription for the drugs and has the ability to issue a safety concern letter to the employer.

Combined testing

Many trucking companies are conducting hair follicle testing in addition to the DOT-mandated urine test. Based on Quest Diagnostics data, Sample says hair testing gives higher positivity rates.

Hair tests detect patterns of repetitive drug use, he says. It is the most effective test for detecting cocaine use, says Sample, who has a Ph.D. in pharmacology and is a board-certified toxicologist.

In other industries, oral fluid tests are also commonly used. Sample says the drug positivity rate for marijuana use is higher in oral fluid testing compared to hair or urine tests.

“There is value in having more than one testing specimen at your disposal,” he says. The advantages of hair and oral fluid testing is they are observed collections.

Excerpt taken from

CVSA Prepares for December 2017 ELD Implementation; Announces April 1, 2018, Effective Date for Out-of-Service Criteria Related to ELD Rule

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) will begin enforcing the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate requirements on Dec. 18, 2017. The out-of-service criteria (OOSC) associated with the ELD mandate will go into effect on April 1, 2018.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) congressionally mandated ELD compliance deadline is still set for Dec. 18, 2017. On that date, inspectors and roadside enforcement personnel will begin documenting violations on roadside inspection reports and, at the jurisdiction’s discretion, will issue citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers operating vehicles without a compliant ELD. Beginning April 1, 2018, inspectors will start placing commercial motor vehicle drivers out of service if their vehicle is not equipped with the required device. Please note, a motor carrier may continue to use a grandfathered automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) no later than Dec. 16, 2019. The AOBRD must meet the requirements of 49 C.F.R. 395.15.

This announcement does not impact enforcement of the OOSC for other hours-of-service violations.

CVSA supports moving forward with the compliance date as specified in the rule. However, setting an April 1, 2018, effective date for applying the ELD OOSC will provide the motor carrier industry, shippers and the roadside enforcement community with time to adjust to the new requirement before vehicles are placed out of service for ELD violations.

CVSA member jurisdictions have used this phased-in approach in the past when implementing a significant change in regulatory requirements. The CVSA Board of Directors, in consultation with FMCSA and the motor carrier industry, agreed that the phased-in approach to implementation of the ELD requirements outlined in the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria will help promote a smoother transition to the new ELD requirement.

A letter was sent to FMCSA notifying the agency of CVSA’s commitment to implementing the new requirement, as scheduled, on Dec. 18, 2017, and noting the April 1, 2018, effective date for applying the ELD OOSC.

For more information about the ELD rule, visit FMCSA’s ELD implementation website.

Excerpt from:

FMCSA Formally Withdraws Sleep Apnea Screening Rule

A rulemaking meant to establish criteria and processes for instituting sleep apnea screening requirements for truck operators will officially be withdrawn on Monday, according to a notice issued Friday by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

A sleep apnea rule would give clarity to medical examiners, carrier employers and drivers themselves about what conditions or combination of conditions would prompt a driver to be referred for an in-lab apnea test, as well as treatment protocol. Currently, medical examiners have the discretion to determine which drivers are referred for apnea testing. Absent a rule, such a system will remain in place. Industry-wide, the system has prompted questions and concerns, particularly since sleep apnea referrals can carry expensive out-of-pocket costs for fleets, drivers or both.

The rule’s official withdrawal comes two weeks after the agency hinted in an annual regulatory update that the rule was on the chopping block. There was some confusion then, given that the report said the rule had been withdrawn on an unspecified date in June. However, no official notice had been published in the U.S. Federal Register, which is required to formally rescind a rule.

Friday’s notice, however, validates the U.S. DOT’s July update to its regulatory calendar.

The agency worked on the sleep apnea rule persistently in 2016, including the publication of a so-called pre-rule, listening sessions held around the country and apnea-focused meetings by two of its prominent advisory committees. However, the agency did not gather enough data to warrant a rulemaking, it said in the July regulatory update.

In the notice published Friday, FMCSA says the current protocol in place for apnea screening is sufficient. That protocol, spelled out in a bulletin issued in January 2015 by FMCSA, puts the onus on drivers’ medical examiners, encouraging them to refer drivers for apnea testing if they “believe the driver’s respiratory condition is in any way likely to interfere with the driver’s ability to safely control and drive a commercial motor vehicle.”

FMCSA’s published pre-rule, known as an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, last March sought industry input for guidance on developing a rule. The agency also sought input from its advisory committees last year, including the MRB and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, whose members include trucking industry stakeholders. The groups recommended that FMCSA in its sleep apnea rule require drivers who have a Body Mass Index of 40 or higher be automatically referred for apnea testing.

The groups also recommended that truckers with a BMI of 33 or higher, and who meet other qualifiers (like being male and older than 42), be referred for apnea testing, too. See the full list of apnea screening criteria recommended by the FMCSA committees at this link. Truckers referred for apnea testing, under the MCSAC/MRB recommendations, would receive a temporary certification pending their test results.

FMCSA to Begin Making Crash Preventability Determinations

FMCSA handed the trucking industry a significant victory this week when they announced a planned demonstration project to begin making preventability determinations on crashes meeting certain criteria and incorporating them into motor carriers’ CSA Safety Measurement System records. The announcement comes in response to comments by ATA on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2015 Crash Weighting Study.

Motor carriers will be able to submit preventability challenges beginning August 1, 2017, for crashes the agency feels are more likely to have been unavoidable. That includes crashes in which the commercial motor vehicle was struck: in the rear; while parked; by a motorist driving under the influence; or by a motorist driving the wrong way. Motor carriers can also challenge the preventability of certain single-vehicle crashes including: animal strikes; suicide by truck; infrastructure failures; or trucks struck by falling objects.

If, after reviewing the evidence provided by the motor carrier, FMCSA finds the crash to be not preventable, it will be appropriately labeled on a carrier’s CSA profile and their Crash Indicator Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) score will be re-calculated with the crash omitted. FMCSA will display this new score to logged-in motor carriers and law enforcement alongside the traditional Crash Indicator score which includes all crashes.

FMCSA will use the data from the demonstration project to determine whether removing non-preventable crashes improves the accuracy of the Crash Indicator BASIC. The program will last at least one year. 

Budweiser Delivers First Shipment Using Autonomous Truck

Excerpted from

If you’re in Colorado Springs, you might buy a can of beer that was shipped by a self-driving truck.

Otto and Budweiser announced Tuesday that they have reached a major milestone on the road to autonomous trucking with the completion of the world’s first shipment using a self-driving truck.

Otto, which is now owned by Uber, teamed up with Anheuser-Busch to haul 51,744 cans of Budweiser from Fort Collins, through downtown Denver, to Colorado Springs. By using cameras, radar, and lidar sensors mounted on the vehicle to “see” the road, Otto’s system controlled the acceleration, braking, and steering of the truck to carry the beer exit-to-exit without any human intervention.

Walter Martin, a professional truck driver since 2007, monitored the 120-mile journey down I-25 on October 20 from the sleeper berth in the back. Otto says the project had full support from the State of Colorado.

“We are always looking for new innovations and technology,” explained Anheuser Busch’s James Sembrot in a video posted by Otto. “Otto’s trucks are the next area of transportation innovation.”

The driver is still involved in picking up the load, making sure the freight is secured in the trailer. Once the truck is on the Interstate, he flips a switch and the truck drives itself down the road.

As HDT’s Rolf Lockwood reported earlier this year, Otto hardware and software is tuned for the consistent patterns and easy-to-predict road conditions of highway driving. Sensors are installed high atop the truck, which offers an unobstructed view of the road ahead. With highways making up only 5% of U.S. roads, Otto says this allows a tight testing focus on a specific set of trucking routes critical for the American economy.

DVIR Elimination if No Defects Found

Yesterday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration eliminated the regulation requiring commercial vehicle drivers to submit and retain Driver-Vehicle Inspection Reports when the driver has neither discovered nor been made aware of any vehicle defects.
The FMCSA found that the time saved by eliminating the paperwork required by the DVIR rule will relieve the trucking industry of 46.7 million working hours and save $1.7 billion per year. In addition, the FMSCA stated that eliminating the DVIR rule would not have any negative safety impacts because other regulations still require drivers to conduct pre-trip inspections.
The elimination of the DVIR requirement takes effect immediately, but is not eliminated for passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicles, such as busses.

BREAKING: 34-Hour Restart Rule Suspended

Excerpted from the Texas Trucking Association


The Unified Voice of Texas Trucking

December 17, 2014

34-Hour Restart suspension effective immediately

Late last night, President Barack Obama signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by Congress that includes language to suspend the current 34-hour restart provision of the hours-of-service rule.

Obama’s signature means—effective immediately—the industry will return to the restart provision in place prior to the July 2013 changes; allowing a driver to take as many restarts as he or she chooses during a work week and does not require that a restart include two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. time periods.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is expected to prepare a notice for the Federal Register that will explain ramifications of Obama’s action with respect to commercial vehicle enforcement.

The Texas trucking industry and TXTA thank Congress, particularly Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), for the commonsense fix to these two unjustified provisions of the current hours-of-service restart rules in this year’s omnibus spending bill.

Thank you, also, to TXTA members for your help notifying our Congressional delegation. Your involvement made a difference and our voice has been heard!

Texas Trucking Association | 700 East 11th Street Austin, TX 78701 | (800) 727-7135

Detroit Assurance: Collision Mitigation, Assisted Braking, Better MPG

Excerpted from

MIAMI — Detroit Assurance, Daimler Trucks North America’s new active vehicle safety suite, made its real-world debut on Friday. The company hosted a ride-and-drive event in Miami after first announcing the system last month during the American Trucking Association’s October Management Conference in San Diego.

The Detroit Assurance suite includes Active Brake Assist for collision mitigation and Adaptive Cruise Control to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead. Customers also have the option of adding a lane departure warning system.

The functionality is not new to North America. Several third-party systems are already widely deployed and some are available on DTNA Class 8 trucks. However, Brad Williamson, manager of Powertrain Marketing for DTNA, claims the level on integration capable with its proprietary system goes beyond what an add-on system can deliver.

“The vendor systems we offer work well and perform well, but we think the deep integration offered with Detroit Assurance takes functionality and performance to a new level,” he explained. “Similar systems have been in place in Mercedes Benz cars for better than two decades, and on Daimler trucks in Europe for more than 10 years. But all the software, all the logic and all the algorithms with this system are proprietary to DTNA.”

The system uses radar pulses to detect metallic objects ahead of the truck. It can track up to 40 objects up to 660 feet away, DTNA says, while the Video Radar Decision Unit refreshes its speed, distance, and time calculations 200 times per second. Data from these two sources feed the Active Brake Assist and the Adaptive Cruise Control functions. The optional windshield-mounted camera supplies information to the lane departure warning.

Active Braking Assist

The ABA system will intervene under two conditions:

1. if it determines a collision is likely, and
2. to slow the truck if a pre-set following distance is compromised.

Depending on the degree of urgency, the system may simply throttle back and reduce vehicle speed to compensate for the narrower following distance, in which case the driver may not even notice the intervention. Or under more dire circumstances, the system will apply up to 100% of the trucks service brake capacity in order to slow the vehicle and mitigate the possible damage arising from a collision.

The driver gets a three-tiered alert sequence beginning with an audio and visual warning that the system has detected a potential conflict. The system will mute the radio (if it’s on) and sound a buzzer while displaying “Collision Warning” on the integrated dash-mounted driver information display.

Should that fail to get the driver to initiate braking, the ABA system will partially apply the engine brake and service brakes to warn the driver to respond. The next step sees the ABA take command, using the transmission, engine brake and service brakes to slow the truck safely.

Depending on the dynamics of the situation, this sequence could take place over a few seconds span of time, to almost instantly. If the driver responds in a timely manner or the situation that caused the alert is disappears, the warning and braking sequence stops immediately.

Adaptive Cruise Control

When the driver has the ACC set to a certain speed, the truck will maintain that speed under normal conditions. The factory default following distance is set to 3.5 seconds, but an optional headway switch allows the driver to adjust the following distance anywhere from 2.3 seconds to 3.5 seconds in one-third second increments. ACC is active anytime the cruise control is engaged and active.

ACC uses the radar and the camera system to detect metallic objects ahead of the truck and will adjust the vehicle speed in order to maintain the preset following distance. For example, while cruising at 65 mph, if the truck comes up on a vehicle moving at 55 mph, the system will de-throttle the engine to reduce speed in order to maintain the preset gap. In cases where the speed delta is small and the distance between is good, the driver may not even notice the deceleration. In a more urgent situation, the system would engage the engine brake and possibly even the service brakes to slow the truck.

In situations where a vehicle cuts in front of the truck well inside of the preset following distance but is accelerating, nothing happens. If that vehicle slows, the response from Detroit Assurance can be quite dramatic. 728

ABA and ACC Together

While the two systems function independently, together they provide a measure of safety as well as driver convenience and even fuel efficient operation.

Because the system maintains a set following distance, the truck will follow a leading vehicle at any speed at a safe distance. The net effect is the vehicle in front will set the speed for the truck as well. The real benefit to this is driver convenience and fuel economy.

“It’s hard to take full advantage of cruise control in dense traffic because the variation in speed,” said Williamson. “With Detroit Assurance you can probably drive 400 miles without ever having to touch the brake or the accelerator. The less braking and accelerating you do, the better the fuel economy.”

Scott Kuebler, general manager of Component Sales at DTNA, explained that the deep level of integration between Detroit Assurance and the Detroit engine and DT12 transmission results in smoother and more fuel-efficient speed and braking transitions.

“All these products speak ‘Detroit,’ and that really increases to the level of integration possible when the communication takes place on the J1939 data bus,” he said.

Lane Departure Warning

An optional camera system provides lane departure warnings using audio and visual indicators to notify a driver he or she has unintentionally departed the lane. The camera detects reflective paint on the road, and when it detects the truck crossing from the lane, the radio will mute and the driver gets an audible warning inside the cab from the side of the truck where the crossover occurs.

The driver can disable this system with a switch on the dash while driving in conditions that may cause false warnings, such as construction zones and roads with tight curves. The disable feature will remain active for at least 15 minutes or until the truck exceeds 49 mph.

Detroit Assurance is available with Eaton manual transmissions as well, but with limited functionally. Full functionality is available only with Detroit engines and DT12 transmission. It’s available for the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution and Cascadia trucks equipped with Detroit engines,

“If we can mitigate a collision and down scale the severity of the crash, we can save you a lot of money on just one accident,” Williamson said. “There’s absolutely a value proposition there, and that doesn’t include the reduced downtime resulting from a less severe repair job.”

Watch for an upcoming QuickSpin feature on how Detroit Assurance handles itself in traffic. In the meantime, check out this Ultimate Test Drive promo for an upcoming UTD video feature on the system.

Trucking Insurance Proposal Under Review

Excerpted from

A proposal that could eventually lead to higher insurance requirements for trucking companies is close to publication. An advanced notice of the proposal is under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget and can be expected to show up in the Federal Register this year.

Acting under instructions from Congress, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to update insurance requirements that have been in place for almost 30 years.

In 1985 the Department of Transportation (FMCSA did not exist then) set minimums of $750,000 for general freight, $5 million for the most dangerous hazmats and $1 million for other hazmats.

In 2012 Congress considered telling the agency to raise the general freight minimum to $1 million, but it ultimately told the agency to prepare an analysis that could become the basis for a new standard.

In its analysis the agency found that the minimums need to be reevaluated due to increasing medical costs and changing statistical life estimates. It is considering a range of numbers, but one option would be to peg the minimums to the Consumer Price Index.

If that happens, the general freight requirement would jump to $1.6 million, dangerous hazmats would go to $10.8 million and other hazmats would go to $2.2 million.

Transportation interests take varied and conflicting positions on the issue.

The agency asked an advisory panel of carriers, owner-operators, enforcement officials, bus companies and safety advocates for suggestions on how to proceed, and this week the panel came back with a five-page list.

At a meeting Tuesday in Alexandria, Va., the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee said the agency needs more information about the costs of insurance and claims, the impact of insurance costs on small carriers, and the frequency of catastrophic claims.

The agency is focusing on which index the minimum should be pegged to, and how to account for the wide gap between ordinary claims and the rare catastrophic claim.

American Trucking Associations is concerned that a minimum that includes the highest claims would be too expensive.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association contends that insurance minimums do not correspond to safety.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety noted that insurance is not just a way to influence safety behavior – it also determines who pays for injuries.

The agency is a long way from making any changes. It will take comments on this advanced notice and then complete the research it needs to craft a proposal. That proposal will have to go through the same notice-and-comment process before the agency can post a final rule.

Meanwhile, Congress has a bill that would force the agency to stop work on this issue. The bill has not advanced but it is a signal that there is significant opposition to any changes.

Top 20 Vehicle Violations Nationwide

U.S. Based Trucks Only – Fiscal 2013

Excerpted from Avery Vise

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