Last updated: January 18, 2021
School bus drivers are entrusted with our most precious cargo. It’s imperative that they’re in command of their senses. Sadly, though, there’s a chance that some smoked pot before they loaded up our kids and hit the road.
A report released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) Clearinghouse confirmed that between the months of January and September 2020, employers reported 40,433 positive drug tests. Fifty-two percent of them were for marijuana use—you see where we’re going here, right?
What are the odds?
The statistic was presented at the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) online conference in November. They weren’t broken down to show the number of school bus drivers that may have been included in that number.
Still, with drug use on the rise due to people trying to cope with the havoc wreaked by the pandemic, it’s a pretty safe bet some school bus drivers use pot, other drugs, or alcohol.
As a matter of fact, USA Today reported that as of January 2020:
Nationwide, more than 1,620 schoolchildren in 38 states have been placed in harm’s way since 2015 by bus drivers arrested or cited for allegedly driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs – a situation that despite its dangers goes largely untracked by government officials, a Stateline investigation found.”
Staying the course
Susan Miller, the lead transportation consultant at the Colorado Department of Education and the NASDPTS board secretary, asked whether or not the FMCSA was planning to relax the requirements on commercial drivers’ when it comes to marijuana use.
Larry Minor, the associate administrator for policy at the FMCSA replied with the following, “The bottom line for CDL holders is you can’t use marijuana, even though you have states that allow people to use marijuana on a recreational basis.” Minor went on to add that Medical Review Officers (MROs) don’t accept any excuses for a positive marijuana test.
He explained to conference attendees that some legal medications can cause a false positive for marijuana.
Last February, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a warning for school bus drivers and other commercial vehicle operators regarding CBD products. In short, they were informed that with no regulatory standards in place, there’s a chance that the THC levels in these products will cause a positive drug test result.
Education is key
Educating our employees about the dangers of drug use makes a difference.
Education allows people to make informed decisions. Hold classes periodically that include the following topics:
- How drug addictions are formed
- Side effects that accompany drug use
- How drug use destroys relationships with family and friends
It may be enough information to deter them from ever trying drugs. It can also serve as a catalyst to cause someone to admit that they have a problem and need to get help.
If you hire CDL drivers, drug testing is mandated by the DOT. Whether or not you operate in one of the states that have legalized marijuana, it’s staying on the drug test. Make sure your employees know what they’re risking if they use pot or CBD.