Pubdate: Wed, 26 Oct 2005
Source: Terrace Standard (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Terrace Standard
Author: Margaret Speirs
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


The head of a provincial trucking association doesn't believe that
illegal drug use among long-haul drivers is a problem.

Paul Landry of the B.C. Trucking Association made the comment
following the release of a coroner's report indicating that the driver
of a tractor-trailer unit which collided with a truck driven by two
Terrace men had levels of cocaine and crystal meth in his

Dean Ganson and Richard Brown were killed in a fiery crash last August
on Hwy97 outside of Williams Lake when Abbotsford driver David Hart
steered his vehicle in the path of their truck.

"First of all, I have to say that I don't have any information and I
don't think anybody has any information on the prevalence or the
extent to which drivers operate under the influence of drugs," said
Landry, the president and CEO of the association.

He believes if drugs appear at all on crash data reports that "their
presence is miniscule."

He said when drivers are tested, the prevalence of drugs is very, very

Data obtained by Landry last year, which he believes hasn't changed,
are divided into two types of tests: pre-employment testing and random
testing after the person has been hired.

The driver failure rate for pre-employment testing is two per cent and
the failure rate for random testing is 0.6 per cent.

"If you try to translate that into impairment, it's a very small
fraction of a very small fraction," he said.

"Truck drivers don't smoke joints as they drive down the

The pre-employment driver test failure rate was 0.1 to 0.2 per cent
for cocaine and 0.2 per cent for crystal meth.

The failure rate for the random tests was 0.02 per cent.

"Two in 10,000 is really low," said Landry.

"As I say it doesn't even come up on the radar screen when the police
report crashes."

He said the B.C. Trucking Association is involved in a country-wide
drug testing consortium that includes about 20,000 drivers.

Most of those drivers are involved as drug testing is a prerequisite
to operate in the U.S., and the rule is 50 per cent of the driver pool
has to be tested every year, he said.

Some companies have programs that require testing for drivers even
though they don't travel to the U.S.

Landry said the truck driver failure rate for drugs does not indicate
impairment at the time of the test but shows that a driver has taken
drugs at some point.

For example, if a driver was in the Netherlands, where he legally
smoked a joint, then returned a month later and was tested, he would
fail based on the presence of marijuana's key ingredient in his system
and not because he was impaired when tested.

Truck drivers are part of society and there will be some people who
abuse the privileges they have, Landry said, but he doesn't believe
drugs are a problem in the industry.

He said some large companies have chosen to conduct pre-employment and
random tests for drugs even though their drivers only travel

One of the risks of conducting drug testing is that employees will
challenge testing on the basis of human rights legislation.

"I don't think any company successfully has to justify why they do
that (testing)," Landry said.

"It's clear when you look at the data because of its (drugs) higher
incidence in pre-employment screening rather than random, it's (drug
testing) working."

Landry disagrees with other employers' suggestions that drivers could
forge their driving records.

Those records, called abstracts, are put together in a way that's hard
to forge and only contain traffic-related convictions and not drug
offences, he believes.

"I think the ability of police officers to identify drugs use, that is
to say, without any evidence of drugs in the truck or vehicle, is very
difficult and I think equally if not more difficult to prosecute,"
Landry said, adding that intoxicated drivers can be determined by
blowing above the limit on a breathalyzer but no similar test exists
for drugs.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin