An 18-wheeler truck carrying a full load weighs approximately 80,000 pounds, or about the equivalent of 7 mature male African elephants. While on the interstate, these trucks can travel at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, depending on the state, and cross distances ranging thousands of miles. They deliver goods and materials necessary for everyday life.
Other essential services also travel these same roads: delivery personnel, ambulances, police officers and hundreds of thousands of daily commuters. For professional drivers, the roads are their workplace. That workplace can turn tragic in an instant, from sudden traffic jams, dangerous weather, and alcohol use on the job.
Impact of drunk driving
Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) shows that more than 10,000 people die each year from drunk driving-related crashes. The DOT estimates that 29% of motor vehicle fatalities in 2018 were caused by drunk driving. The National Traffic Safety Administration estimated the cost of drunk driving in loss of life and damages in the U.S. carried an estimated cost of $44 billion in 2010.
Recreational alcohol use can turn deadly
A thin line separates recreational alcohol use from misuse. Substance use disorders can manifest when the recurrent use of drugs or alcohol causes clinically and functionally significant impairment, such as health problems, disability, and failure for an individual to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that individuals who consume alcohol frequently, engage in binge drinking, or are heavy drinkers are at risk for short- and long-term effects of alcohol use can include falls, injuries, and motor vehicle crashes. Health risks for excessive drinking over time may include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
How can employers keep workplaces safe?
Alcohol problems can arise in the workplace as concerns with attendance, poor job performance, or issues with coworkers or clients. Research shows that drug and alcohol testing programs can help keep workplaces drug-free, especially when safety-sensitive positions require professionals to maintain sobriety for the safety of the general public.
Bus drivers, airline pilots, transit operators, and truck drivers are all subject to strict drug and alcohol test guidelines. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s 49 CFR Part 40 requires all DOT agencies to conduct drug and alcohol testing while offering guidelines on how to get people back to work after violations of its regulations.
Private sector employers often look at the DOT’s robust guidelines as a blueprint on how to conduct an effective drug and alcohol testing program for their organization. Additionally, agencies like the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offer in-depth resources and insights about prevention, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) for alcohol dependence issues in employees, and information on how to identify potential work-related risk factors that may contribute to alcohol misuse on the job.
Design an effective alcohol and drug testing program for your business. Learn more.
The workplace can be hazardous for many reasons. Employers continue to work to eliminate on-the-job drug or alcohol use by employees among those reason. Much like drug testing, alcohol testing can help employers make decisions to help keep their employees safe and, unlike drug testing, can help determine whether an individual is impaired from alcohol. As such, alcohol testing is effective when paired with random, post-accident, or for-cause drug testing. Alcohol testing isn’t simply about ‘consumption’. It’s more about determining whether somebody may be impaired – hence reasonable suspicion/Post-accident testing
Quest Diagnostics now offers electronic breath alcohol testing (eBAT) in its nationwide collection network, meaning a convenient location is nearby your company. An eBAT refers to the electronic process for breath alcohol testing. Quest Diagnostics only uses evidential breath testing (EBT) devices listed on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conforming products list. This is important because the device performs both the initial alcohol test as well as subsequent confirmations, if needed.
Learn more about electronic breath alcohol testing in this comprehensive FAQ.