FMCSA increases random testing rate for 2020

Jan 17, 2020

According to a release on Dec. 27th, from the Federal Register, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has increased the minimum annual percentage rate for random testing for truck drivers. In 2019 the annual rate for random testing was 25%, but as of Jan. 1st, 2020, the new annual random testing rate has been increased to 50%, this means that approximately 2.1 million random tests will be required within 2020.

“This change reflects the increased positive test rate and will result in an estimated $50 million to $70 million increase in costs to the industry by requiring that more drivers be tested,”

From the Federal Register document

This change by the FMCSA returns the random testing rate to what it had been prior to 2016, when the FMCSA dropped the rate to 25%. The statement from the Federal Register explains that the FMCSA basis their random testing pool requirements on the data received from their yearly survey to selected motor carriers. The yearly survey seeks to obtain information on the number of random tests done by the motor carriers as well as what the positive rates were for tests. 

The FMCSA’s final rule titled “Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing”, published in 2001 stipulates the process which must be followed when assessing whether to increase or decrease the testing rate. The rule requires the administrator to increase the annual random testing percentage rate if the data received from the surveys shows that the reported positive rate is equal to or greater than 1%. This means that because the FMCSA’s 2018 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey revealed that the rate had increased from 0.8% in 2017 (0.7% in 2016) to 1% in 2018, an increase in the random testing rate was required.

Tom Bray, a transportation industry consultant at J.J. Keller, notes that the rate may have increased due to the addition of the four synthetic opioids to the Department of Transportation’s required testing panel: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. 

“That is a major issue in the country in general, our group of drivers represents the country. If the country’s having trouble with opioids, so are drivers.”

Tom Bray, consultant at J.J. Keller

A point of frustration for many motor carriers is the short notice that the FMCSA gave with their notification of the change, as most companies had already completed their budget planning for the upcoming year, and this change will hugely impact those numbers.