OOIDA says report on drivers' drug use 'meaningless'

Updated Jan 29, 2022

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Jan. 24, 2022:

OOIDA refutes report claiming operators' hard-drug use

A January 11 study from the Trucking Alliance and the University of Central Arkansas that alleged truck drivers use cocaine more than marijuana, and that the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse should have booted an additional 60,000 or so drivers, has met with a sharp rebuttal from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. 

The report, which Overdrive explored here, circulated widely in trucking media as a piece of advocacy for the use of hair testing instead of simply urine testing. OOIDA took aim at the study's lack of peer-review and suggested that it was a piece of marketing rather than a true scientific publication. 

Essentially, TA's study simply showed the results of its members' hair testing regime and compared it to Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse urine testing results. Since hair testing picks up on hard drug use at a higher rate than urine testing, it then projected the results of the hair testing onto the larger urine-tested population 

OOIDA raised many issues Overdrive's reporting previously uncovered, calling the study "meaningless" because it failed to control for possible confounding factors. Additionally, OOIDA suggested that hair testing likely misses the point of drug testing entirely. 

"Hair testing may indeed indicate the use of other drugs, but it’s important to define 'current use'. Hair testing may show drug use from weeks or months previous to the test, but hair testing does not and cannot detect current use indicating that the driver is under the influence at the time of the test," the report read. "This is the reason that hair testing cannot be used for after-accident testing with any accuracy. It takes a period of days or weeks before there is any detectable signs of drug use." 

Find OOIDA's full report here

[Related: Does trucking have a 'seriously' under-reported cocaine problem?]

FMCSA updates vision standard for certain truck drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a final rule that, when it takes effect March 22, will allow truck drivers who do not satisfy certain vision requirements with one eye or the other to still be physically qualified to drive a truck without an exemption.

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The new rule applies to drivers who do not satisfy, with their worse eye, either the existing distant visual acuity standard with corrective lenses or the field of vision standard, or both.

Currently, these drivers cannot operate in interstate commerce without an exemption from FMCSA. The new alternative vision standard replaces the current vision exemption program as the basis for determining the physical qualification of these drivers.

Drivers who physically qualify under the new alternative standard for the first time will be required to complete a road test administered by their employer before driving interstate. Drivers are exempt from the road test requirement if they have three years of intrastate or exempted interstate trucking experience with the vision deficiency, hold a valid federal vision exemption, or are medically certified under the previously administered vision waiver study program.

Before being medically certified under the new alternative vision standard, a driver must have a vision evaluation conducted by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Then, a medical examiner performs a physical exam and determines whether the driver meets the alternative vision standard, as well as FMCSA’s other physical qualification standards.

To be physically qualified, a driver must have at least 20/40 vision in the better eye and a field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal meridian, be able to recognize the colors of traffic signals, have a stable vision deficiency, and have had sufficient time pass since the vision deficiency became stable to adapt to and compensate for the change in vision.

[Related: DOT's near-term regulatory priorities include vision waiver adjustment]

Howes launches new Diesel Lifeline product

Howes Diesel Lifeline truckHowes' new Diesel Lifeline emergency rescue product features no alcohol and does not require a fuel filter change to get trucks back up and running after fuel gelling.Diesel additive and lubricant manufacturer Howes will embark on a three-state, 14 truck stop tour across the coldest parts of I-80 to exhibit its new Howes Diesel Lifeline “emergency rescue” product.

“We’ve literally ‘hit the road’ in an effort to showcase what makes our Diesel Lifeline product so unique and dependable,” said Rob Howes, Executive Vice President and Chief Testing Officer at Howes Products. “Our Lifeline formula is different than any other product of its kind, and we wanted to bring that fact to life by doing things a little differently than usual.”

The Lifeline Tour will venture through parts of Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming, over nearly a 1,000-mile stretch of I-80 that is known for severely cold weather.

Drivers in this corridor know well that they can face frigid, debilitating cold that can cause their diesel fuel to gel up. In the case of such an emergency, Diesel Lifeline gives drivers a new option when choosing a rescue product – one that is alcohol-free and safe to use, with no potential to harm their vehicle, Howes says.

Howes Diesel Lifeline does not require a fuel filter replacement or mixing with additional fuel, allowing drivers to simply pour the product in and let it work, reducing the time drivers have to spend in the cold. In most cases, Howes says, Lifeline gets drivers back up and running in 15 minutes.

In addition to showcasing the product, the tour will serve as the official unveiling of the new Howes-wrapped 18-wheeler. Howes will also be handing out a variety of branded items and prizes to drivers at each location along the tour. The tour will begin in Walcott, Iowa on Wednesday, Jan. 26 and end in Burns, Wyoming on Feb. 11.

[Related: Q&A: Should I use diesel fuel additives in winter?]

Driver honored for stopping to help at crash scene

The Truckload Carriers Association has named ABF Freight truck driver Amos Thurman, from Homer Glen, Illinois, a Highway Angel for aiding a woman and her two daughters after their vehicle overturned in a ditch. 

Amos ThurmanAmos ThurmanThurman has come across many bad traffic accidents during his 40 years as a truck driver. Some have taken place right in front of him. This was the case one evening in September when he was traveling near Festus, Missouri.

“I was coming up 67 (U.S. Hwy 67) and saw an SUV in the left lane switching lanes,” Thurman said. “She lost control while making the lane change and went right off the road. She went into the ditch and then up in the air and then flipped over.”

Without hesitation, Thurman safely pulled over and jumped out to assist. When he reached the overturned SUV, he found that all of the doors were jammed shut. Inside, a mother and her two daughters were still in their seatbelts and hanging upside down. Another motorist stopped to help. The two of them struggled to open the doors.

“We wanted to get them out in case there was a fire,” said Thurman. Eventually, he was able to pry one of the doors open. 

“The mother was in the driver’s seat, and she had one daughter in the front seat and one in the back seat,” he said.

Thurman and the other motorist were able to free the 16-year-old girl in the back seat. However, he couldn’t reach the younger girl in the front seat.

“I wanted to cut the mother’s seat belt to get them out, but she said she didn’t want me to.” Thurman calmed the woman and told her he would stay with them until first responders arrived.

Sadly, Thurman lost his own sister in a traffic accident a few days later when she was struck by a drunk driver. He said he will always stop to help when he can and hopes that others will as well. 

For his willingness to help, TCA presented Thurman with a certificate, patch, lapel pin and truck decals. His employer, ABF Freight, also received a letter acknowledging him as a Highway Angel.

Love’s opens new Texas, Illinois locations

Love’s Travel Stops last week opened new locations in Winona, Texas, and Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

The Texas location offers 113 truck parking spaces, Godfather’s Pizza and Subway restaurants, eight diesel bays, eight showers, a Speedco opening at a later date and more.

The Illinois store features 99 truck parking spaces, a Bojangles restaurant opening at a later date, seven diesel bays, eight showers and more.