Pubdate: Tue, 08 Nov 2005
Source: Abbotsford News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Hacker Press Ltd.
Author: Margaret Speirs


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 bloodstream.

Dean Ganson and Richard Brown were killed in a fiery crash last 
August on Higway 97 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 low.

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 highway."

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 domestically.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman