The DOT Doctor’s Blog

November 6, 2014

State Legalization of Pot and Drug Testing at Work

With the midterm elections over, we have the addition of three states that have legalized marijuana.  DC, Oregon and Alaska have now joined the ranks of WA and CO to allow their residents to legally smoke and carry marijuana on their person.   CA is slated as the next state to have this question on their ballot.

What does this mean in the workplace?   CO Supreme Court is hearing a case regarding marijuana usage by a worker.   It’s outcome should set the guidelines for how companies may proceed regarding non-DOT drug testing.  CO has strict regulations that prohibit you from penalizing a worker in a random test found to have used marijuana unless they are in a safety sensitive function or the position has a bona fide occupational qualifications.  Pr-employment and reasonable suspicion is still allowed.  However, to fire an employee for marijuana usage, outside of these parameters, the worker basically has to be stoned or using on the job.   If CO has this rule in place, you can be sure that the other 4 states have similar regulations or protections for the workers as well.

DOT required drug and alcohol testing supersede these state regulations.  The concern is for companies who wish to implement an across the board testing program for all drivers or all workers.  In many cases, their hands are tied.  In an age where we are all pushing safety; this is quite the ironic twist.

Do you feel safe working next to a person who may be “stoned”?   Do you want to be on the highway with someone in a vehicle next to you who is impaired?   While that driver may be operating something under 26,000 lbs; it is still a vehicle in motion.   While placing someone in jail for having a joint on their person is not practical; neither is allowing someone under the influence to be operating machinery.

I am anxious to see the outcome of the CO case.  I know this is a hot topic with many different perspectives.   How do you think that the spread of legalization of marijuana will affect workplace safety in the long term?   Your comments are welcomed!

How have you made the roadways safer today?

October 23, 2014

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving goes beyond the vehicle class. It is an issue for all drivers but only CMV drivers, with these exceptions, are singled out and penalized. The train accident should not have happened. Following the driver’s “safety” patterns, or rather lack thereof, it was not the phone that caused the wreck but the driver’s habits. He does not pay merit to a train crossing and fudges on his med exams. It is likely this accident would have still occurred even if he had not been on the phone.

Cell phone usage, eating while driving, smoking with driving, laptop/iPad usage while driving and the 100 other things that can be on this list are all distractions.  How often do you see someone multitasking while behind the wheel?  They are applying makeup, shaving, having sex/performing sexual acts, changing clothes, reading a book and a myriad of other unthinkables while driving.  This is a culture and attitude change that needs to occur by all drivers to make our roadways safer.

CMV drivers, due to the larger vehicle and weight size, come into focus more quickly.   With D.O.T. regulations, we already have a means of governance over them so they are easier targets to point the finger upon.   CMV drivers do not need more regulations.  We need a nationwide attitude and accountability change for all drivers.   For all persons!

We have become litigious society that blames the other guy.   There is no personal responsibility taught any more.  It is always someone else’s fault.  People need to take responsibility for their own actions once again.  Drivers need to have real training behind the wheel and in the classroom before obtaining a license.  This is not just CMV drivers but everyone that possess the privilege to drive.  Non-CMV drivers need to be schooled and educated on how to conduct themselves around a CMV.   CMV drivers need to take pride in their profession and return to the Kings (and Queens) of the road that they once were.  We all need to stop trying to doing 100 things at once and concentrate one doing one thing to the best of our ability at a time.  This is how to make our roadways safer.  This how to end so called ADD and other distraction aliments.   We must again learn to concentrate instead of having the mindset and brain power of a gold fish.

Trucking companies are going to communicate with their drivers.  If it is not via cell phone, then it will be via onboard devices (texting alert) or radio.  Business people on the road are going to do the same.  Our society have moved into this “must be connected at all times” state.  The only way this will stop is if the phone manufactures place a block in the phones that render them unusable if in a moving vehicle.   Doubtful they will as this shall cost them money.

Drivers who are concerned for safety can download apps like ‘I’m Driving’.  This app informs your caller, automatically, that you cannot be reached at present due to being behind the wheel.   Some of my drivers use to use this app or a similar one.  While aggravating to the party trying to reach them; it is a welcome call to safety.  The driver who chooses this route, is a driver focused on safety.   To use this app effectively, it is a matter of learning to check the phone regularly when you stop for messages and missed calls.  Instead of killing hours behind the wheel “yacking”; you make safe, direct calls during a stop.  It is all about changing the mindset from frivolous to safety.

We do not need more regulations to achieve this goal.  We need education.  We need people who want to be safe.   Ask yourself, “What are you doing today to improve roadway safety?”  You don’t have to be a CMV driver to make a difference.

Source Story:  http://cdllife.com/2014/top-trucking-news/ntsb-recommends-fmcsa-place-stricter-restrictions-hand-held-devices

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