With the opioid epidemic on the rise, the trucking industry is at risk of accidents, bodily injury and death. The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires drug testing after a trucking accident and most companies require a test before hiring. However, the current drug testing is limited and excludes common prescription opioids.

The DOT is planning to add four additional prescription medications to the existing DOT drug test used for truck drivers and other safety essential personnel. These four medications are: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone. This change will become effective on January 1, 2018.

“Inclusion of these four semi-synthetic opioids is intended to help address the nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse,” DOT said in its rulemaking notice, which is to be published in the Federal Register for Nov. 13.

The agency noted that these four drugs that are “already tested for in many transportation employers’ non-DOT testing programs because of their widespread use and potentially impairing effect” and that adding them to the required screening will allow DOT to detect a broader range of drugs being used illegally.

The final rule also adds the drug methylenedioxyamphetamine as an initial test analyte and removes the drug methylenedioxyethylamphetamine as a confirmatory test analyte. In addition, the rule does away with the requirement for employers and consortium/third-party administrators to submit blind specimens.

The DOT stated that the revisions to 49 CFR Part 40 will match DOT regulations with revised Department of Health and Human Services “mandatory guidelines” for federal drug-testing programs for urine testing.

The rulemaking also clarifies that only urine testing is allowed for DOT drug tests. Point-of-collection urine testing or instant tests are not allowed, as the tests have to be screened and confirmed at Health and Human Services labs.

Source: Top News: DOT Changing Drug Testing to Address Opioid Abuse Epidemic; by David Cullen;
Overdrive: DOT adding four opioids to drug testing panels for truckers; by Matt Cole
Keller & Keller; The Opioid Epidemic Sitting Behind and 18-Wheeler