Why Carry Out Employee Testing in the Transport Industry?

Driving is a dangerous activity for all, with factors such as weather conditions and high traffic volumes contributing to increase in road accidents. As a result, road users have a responsibility to themselves and others to keep the roads safe. Careless driving, a lapse in judgement or a slight delay in reaction can have fatal consequences.

As a professional driver, the responsibility to carry out daily tasks on roads and rails safely and securely extends to not only themselves and fellow road users, but also for the safety of those using their service. This, along with the fact that driving is one of the most dangerous work activities, emphasizes the need for driving in the workplace to be closely monitored. Workplace drug and alcohol testing ensures a proactive approach to keeping work related journeys as safe as possible.

The European Transport Safety Council is dedicated in reducing the number of deaths and injuries in transport in Europe. With drink driving being responsible for the death of thousands of Europeans every year, and the inevitability of serious injuries of those involved in truck collisions, they express the importance for regular employee testing for HGV drivers.

Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on Driving Ability

    Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol can significantly hinder a person’s driving ability:

    • Reaction time is slowed by 10% to 30%
    • Night vision is reduced by 25%
    • Steering ability is significantly impaired from as little as 0.035% blood alcohol concentration

Studies have found that even the smallest amount of alcohol can affect driving ability. As a result many regulatory bodies advise that drivers should be 100% sober with not even a drop of alcohol in their system.

To ensure the roads are kept as safe as possible, government regulations are in place to ensure driving under the influence is not permitted.

Rules and Regulations

    Rules and regulations are in place to keep the roads safe. In regards to drugs and alcohol, legal limits are in place to limit the amount of alcohol consumed by drivers. These limits vary internationally:

    • In the UK for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (0.08 BAC), 35 mg per 100 ml of breath, or 107 mg per 100 ml of urine. For Scotland, the alcohol limit for drivers is much lower at 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (0.05 BAC)
    • In most other European countries, the limit is 50 mg per 100 ml of blood (0.05 BAC)
    • In some countries, such as Sweden, there is effectively a zero tolerance with the limit for drivers being as low as just 20 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (0.02 BAC)

Alcohol limits can also vary depending on the mode of transport being driven. In the UK, under the Railways Transportation Safety Bill, the alcohol limit for employees working in the transport industry is 20 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (0.02 BAC), and 9 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of breath. This applies to those working as pilots, cabincrew, air traffic controllers, aircraft engineers, train drivers, and commercial seamen. Similarly, some European countries have a lower alcohol limit for drivers of buses, coaches, and heavy goods vehicles.

To ensure employees adhere to international regulations, an effective workplace drug and alcohol testing policy with regular testing is recommended.

    There are serious implications for employees and employers involved in abuse of drugs and alcohol at work. In regards to driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, the penalties are as follows:

    Driving with excess alcohol

    • A fine (the normal fine for a basic drink drive offence is between £400 and £450)
    • A statutory minimum period of disqualification of 12 months

    Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of alcohol or drugs

    • A maximum of 14 years imprisonment

    Serious, including repeat, drink-drive offences (Road Safety Act, 2006)

    • Period of disqualification
    • Retake the driving test at the end of the disqualification period
  • Did You Know?

      • 1 in 7 UK road deaths result from crashes where the driver was over the drink-drive limit (Department for Transport, 2015)
      • On average, there are 200-300 road deaths in the UK each year associated with blood alcohol levels between 10-80 mg per 100 ml
      • 3% of British drivers admitted to driving on illegal drugs at least once in 2014
      • Approximately 60 children are killed or seriously injured by drunk drivers annually in the UK
      • Drugs such as cocaine and illegal opiates raise the risk of a serious or fatal crash by 2-10 times. In addition drivers taking multiple drugs are 5-30 times more likely to be involved in a severe or fatal crash (EU DRUID Programme, 2012)
      • Drivers who consume both a combination of illegal drugs and alcohol are 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than sober drivers (Columbia University, 2013)
      • Drivers with even 20-50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood (Brake)

Who Should Be Tested?

    Employees within all divisions of the transport industry should be tested for consumption of drugs and alcohol. This includes:

    • Train drivers
    • Train guards
    • Train conductors
    • Shunters
    • Rail signallers
    • Permanent way workers
    • Taxi drivers
    • Bus/Coach drivers
    • LGV and/or HGV drivers
    • Tram/Rail/Lorry mechanics

We Recommend Regular Testing

At Randox Testing Services we believe it is the responsibility of public service providers, as well as all employers who have on-the-road services, to undertake regular workplace drug and alcohol testing to strive for safe work related journeys whether on the road or tracks.

Our drug and alcohol testing solutions assist employers and public service providers in ensuring their employees travel safely. With different forms of employee testing available and range of support services, we will help you to implement a workplace testing solution to suit your business needs.

  • Contact us to find out more about our services

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