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Bridge Accident No Indicator of Truckers’ Substance Abuse



TORONTO-- The truck accident on the Burlington Bridge Thursday was an unfortunate occurrence, and truckers are thankful things weren’t worse.

That said, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has issued a strong statement to the general public in an effort to reassure motorists that commercial drivers are very seldom involved with alcohol- or drug-related driving incidents.

OTA Senior Vice President Stephen Laskowski says the association wants to “ensure the motoring public that the actions this individual is accused of in no way reflect the professionalism of the hundreds of thousands men and women who operate their trucks in a safe and courteous manner every day.

“The fact that truck drivers are involved in zero percent of fatal collisions where alcohol or drugs is a factor speaks volumes to the professionalism of  Ontario’s truck drivers and the companies that employ them.”

Ensuring drivers are fit for duty—and that includes not operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol—has become an industry standard, Laskowski says.

Operators of large commercial vehicles are much less likely to be impaired by alcohol or drugs than all other motorists and alcohol is very rarely a factor in North American driver out-of-service rates.

Courtesy of the OTA, here are some rebuttals you can use if you find yourself defending the safety record the industry:

·      Alcohol was involved in zero percent of all fatal collisions involving heavy trucks.

·     According to the most recent Ontario Road Safety Annual Report (ORSAR 2011), Ontario’s drinking-and-driving rate was 0.12 per 10,000 licensed drivers (all classes of licences), the lowest fatality rate compared to, for example, every US State.

·     According to ORSAR, large truck drivers are also less likely to be impaired by alcohol or drugs than all other drivers.

·    In the U.S., in only 0.23 percent of unannounced inspections in 2013, a commercial driver licence holder (CDL) was immediately placed out-of-service and cited for violating federal regulations governing alcohol consumption.

·     In only 0.13 percent of unannounced inspections, a CDL holder was placed immediately out-of-service and cited for violating federal regulations governing controlled substances.

·     In addition to random testing, truck and bus companies are further required to perform drug and alcohol testing on new hires, drivers involved in significant crashes, and whenever a supervisor suspects a driver of using drugs or alcohol while at work.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), along with the Department of Transportation (DOT), requires that all persons, regardless of nationality, subject to the commercial driver’s licence (CDL) requirements and their employers follow alcohol and drug testing rules. These rules include procedures for testing, frequency of tests, and substances tested for. These rules have been in place since 1995.

If a commercial driver never operates in the United States, Canadian employers of commercial drivers are legally permitted to develop a policy that would allow for pre-employment and random alcohol and drug testing for commercial bus operators and truck drivers, provided employees who are drug dependent are accommodated. In Canada, a 2004 court decision and 2009 Human Rights Tribunal guidance document have provided employers with the guidelines to put these programs in place.


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Many trucking companies do not test their truck drivers for drugs. All CTA. members should test all drivers every 6 months

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