Most people in transportation know the four basic reasons of drug testing. The first one all new transport workers experience is the pre-employment drug screen. The second is post-accident. Third is the random test, up to twice per year, and fourth is what’s called ‘reasonable suspicion’. This is when a supervisor observes erratic behavior or physical signs, and can order the employee to undergo a drug screen.
And then there’s this one: While leaving the Portland, Oregon area a few years ago, I saw the weigh station near Cascade Locks was open. Manned as usual by the Oregon State Police, who have a reputation for strict enforcement, I didn’t hesitate to stop on the scales. After passing inspection, the officer on duty asked if I’d be interested in taking a ‘voluntary drug test’ as part of a double-blind study.
I’d never heard of a drug test administered this way, and was a bit apprehensive, but in the spirit of cooperation agreed to the process. Besides, I’ve never come even remotely close to failing one of these.
In an administration building not far from the scale, a research team from a nearby university took my urine sample. There were no labels. No names, No identification.
Satisfied with my contribution to…. whatever this was…. I returned to the truck and resumed my normal driving schedule. I didn’t think about it the rest of the day. In fact, I forgot about it completely.
Then two months later, and thousands of miles away, I was leafing through a trucking magazine when I suddenly came upon this very story. The article was detailed and specific, without naming names, but it was unmistakably that scale, that weekend. The findings were, in a word, breathtaking.
Four hundred truckers that weekend voluntarily submitted to the drug testing protocol. Twenty-nine tested positive for illegal substances. Let me repeat that, just for the record. Twenty-nine drivers, or 7% of those surveyed, voluntarily tested positive for illegal substances. And let me repeat one key word. Voluntarily. If that doesn’t prove drugs affect your judgment, then nothing else will!
Drivers under the influence of drugs are easy to spot. They’re bald. Or wearing a cap. Or carrying a coat.
It could even be the team driver I saw the other day on Monarch Pass in Colorado, who was wearing an Alaska bush hat, insulated parka, and Bermuda shorts. They talk a lot, or not at all. They are older than some, younger than most, and—-according to the Minnesota Highway Patrol—-look like Saddam Hussein, when he was captured by American forces. (Thanks to OOIDA, that image was ruled unconstitutional).
The truth is, drug abusers are almost impossible to identify, because they all look like the rest of us.
Most work like the rest of us. Some even vote like rest of us, (which may explain some recent political outcomes), and a few are even in denial. (Like so many of us).
Only one thing is certain: If Mothers Against Drunk Drivers hears about this, they’re gonna get really MADD. Voluntarily!
Words To Live By from Thomas Edison: I haven’t failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.