Prescription Drugs and Commercial Motor Vehicle Operation Do Not Always Mix

As managers of commercial drivers we need to be aware of the medications that our drivers are taking as they may have a direct effect on their driving skills and operation of a CMV.  Prescription medications have increased substantially in the last 50 years.  In 1950, on average each person had two prescriptions dispensed per year.  In 1994, 7.9 on average and in 2012 increased to 12.0.  It is also alarming to see that Hydrocodone, an opiate based painkiller, was the largest single prescription dispensed in 2004 at 92.7 million prescriptions.  Incidentally, this is one of the five drug groups that are tested for in the FMCSA Controlled substance-testing program.

So what can you do to guard against prescription drug use in your vehicles? 

  1. Communicate with the drivers and be aware of their physical condition.  If you know that a driver has been injured on or off of work, talk to the driver to see if medications have been prescribed.
  2. In work related injuries, make sure the examining physician is aware that the employee operates a CMV  as part or their entire job.  Go to the examining physician’s office with your employee.
  3. Contact your Medical Review Officer for your drug and alcohol-testing program for assistance in reviewing  the prescription medication.

Develop a relationship with your medical care providers so they have an understanding of your employee’s job requirements.