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The CDL Drug test and alcohol tests are a standard part of the trucking industry. If you have a CDL job, you’ve likely had more than a few already. For as common as they are though, there are still a lot of questions about how it all works. Get in the know and don’t get caught unaware the next time your employer asks for a random sample or you are preparing to start a new job. Here are 5 of the most important facts about the CDL drug test and alcohol tests.

1. CDL 101: What is the CDL Drug Test and Alcohol Test?

CDL Drug Test

Most drug tests are urine tests that are given at a specific collection site. The most common type is called a 5 panel test, and it detects marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, and PCP. Most of these substances leave traces that could show up in a urine test long after the effects you can feel have passed (more than 30 days for some!).

CBD oils and lotions can register on these tests, even if there is little to no THC in the product. Make sure you’re in the know on what you can use.

In addition, if you take prescription medications that could register on a drug test, make sure you have written verification from your prescribing doctor that you are able to safely operate a commercial vehicle while taking that medicine. 

Alcohol Test

Alcohol tests are typically done with a breathalyzer. Drivers cannot work or remain on duty with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater. That’s much lower than the allowed limit for drivers of passenger vehicles. For both men and women, that could mean that even one drink puts you in danger of exceeding the legal limit.

As someone who drives a commercial vehicle for a living, the standards for you on the road are higher than for other drivers both on and off duty. In addition to a lower allowed BAC, commercial drivers are not allowed to have alcohol within four hours of starting their shift. If you are convicted of a DUI or DWI even in your personal vehicle, you must report it to your employer and may face significant consequences for your job.

2. When you can be tested

All trucking companies are required to request a drug test from their drivers prior to employment. Drivers may then be submitted to a random drug test annually for the duration of their employment.

The FMCSA requires companies to test 50% of their number of driver positions annually, so your odds of getting tested are not small.

You also may be required to take a drug test if you’re in an accident. The federal law depends on the type of accident you’re in and particularly whether you receive a citation. The FMCSA laws on this are actually pretty clear cut. However, some companies have stricter requirements, and it’s not uncommon for a company to ask for a CDL Drug Test after every accident. (This may be an insurance requirement or simply to encourage safer driving habits.)

3. How the test works

The most common form of drug test is a urine sample. Typically, the sample is collected and then processed in a lab. It is split into 2 samples: A and B. Sample A is tested. If the sample comes up positive, and you think it is an error, you have 72 hours after learning the results to request that another lab test Sample B to confirm the results. If you take prescription medications that may have triggered a positive result, take action immediately to share the doctor’s note.

 

4. Who gets my results (is this related to the Clearinghouse?)

A positive test result will be shared with your employer, but CDL Drug tests are otherwise confidential. They are, however, on your permanent record in the Clearinghouse.

Future employers can ask to see previous drug and alcohol tests, and past employers must share that information.

While it might seem strict, this rule is in place for driver protection. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, tracking the tests can identify this and help the driver get assistance. Substance abuse may also point to a larger conversation about mental health. Truck driving is a hard, and often lonely career. Know that you are not alone, and get to know your resources

5. What happens if I refuse or fail?

Failing a drug test doesn’t automatically mean losing your job, but it is serious. The results of your test will be shared with your employer. It is up to your employer to decide the consequences. That said, the DOT does require that drivers are not allowed to operate a CMV after failing a drug test. In other words, if you are permitted to stay with your company, you won’t be driving. Whether you are at risk of losing your CDL license also depends on your company and the type of accident.

If you refuse to take a drug or alcohol test, that will also be noted on your permanent record. Just like a positive result on a drug test, refusal to complete a drug tests forces you off the road immediately.

You will then need to complete a formal Return to Duty (RTD) process before you are eligible to drive again.

Operating a CMV while on drugs or under the influence of alcohol is dangerous. While these regulations might seem overly strict, prevention is always better than fixing damage when it comes to safety. Staying away from these substances while on the job protects your life, your job, and the lives of everyone else on the road. 

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The Best Cities for People With CDL Trucking JobsWhile drivers often live on the road, they also have a home base. So what are the top 10 cities for truck drivers to live in?

Sparefoot and Indeed.com recently released a survey with the answers as reported by Forbes. They looked into the average salary for drivers, median household pricing and median cost to rent in that city. They also looked at which cities had the largest percentage of driving jobs.

Atlanta ranked No. 1, followed by Charlotte, N.C., and Columbus Ohio. Atlanta’s average salary was $64,000 and it had the lowest rent as a percentage of salary (24.3%).

What seems to be the most beneficial part of the survey is that the top 10 was built around multiple factors, not one or two.

Dallas, for example, ranks in the top five for both percent share of job listings and average annual salary, but it falls to No. 8 on the overall list because of its higher prices of living.

Where you live doesn’t have to determine where you stand economically, but it certainly helps.

What other cities made the top 10? Indianapolis (4th) Chicago (5th), Houston (6th), Kansas City, Mo. (7th), Louisville, Ky. (9th), Nashville (10th).

To learn more about how each city fared in the evaluation categories, view Forbes top 10 cities for truck drivers slideshow here.

Where do you call home? Join our community on Facebook here and make it your own.

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Jazz, blues, folk, rock, Bill “GS” Bass can play it all. He grew up in a musical family where if you had an instrument you played it, and if you didn’t have an instrument, you improvised. Bass took to bass guitar as a kid growing up on Long Island. He liked it so much he took the name of the instrument as well.

While Bass first started strumming in sixth grade, his passion for bass guitar has stood the test of time. He’s had a CDL trucking job since the 1990s. Today he drives part-time for Roehl Transport and spends his home time jamming with other musicians at clubs in Phoenix, Ariz.

Bass

Bass’s truck

“Every song you play is not going to be perfect,” Bass says. “The goal is to have a good time onstage and hopefully that energy spreads to the audience.”

When he’s in his element, the audience can see Bass’s passion unfolding in real time. To be good, you should understand music theory, have the right timing and have a good ear, he says.

Bass strives to bring all of that to his own performance whenever he plays. If he succeeds, the audience will feel it as much as he does.

bass-jamming-nice

“You want to be able to feel the music in time and be an ensemble player,” Bass says. “For a bassist, the drummer is usually your best friend onstage. You tend to play off of those rhythms.”

When it comes to shining moments, one special moment especially stands out for Bass. He was jamming at Pho Cao in Scottsdale, Ariz., when a special guest stopped by. It was legendary drummer Jerome Teasley, who made a name for himself playing with Jimi Hendrix, Tina Turner and Motown greats.

“That was a proud moment for me,” says Bass of jamming with Teasley. “As far as having  a moment where ‘Oh my gosh, it can’t get any better than this,’ that would definitely be it.”

 

bass-band

Bass has played in several bands over the years. They’ve run the gamut from jazz to rock. But those days are over. Bass prefers to cut loose in jam sessions and get caught up in the revelry of the moment.

“My friends are my mentors,” he says. “They’re exceptional players, and I aspire to play like them. A lot happens in jam situations. You play onstage with three or four other people, nobody knows what’s going to happen.”

Are you a truck driver with a creative talent? We’d love to hear about it. Connect with us on Facebook here and tell us about it.

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scenic roads

We know you spend enough time on the road as it is. But all work and no play makes John a dull boy, as they say. The next time you find yourself on a beautiful stretch of highway with nothing to do and nowhere to be (There’s a first time for everything?), treat yourself to a detour of the most beautiful kind. You deserve it!

Here are five gorgeous rides from Yahoo! Travel to whet your appetite for solitude, adventure and even some quality grub. Happy trucking!

1. Big Bend Scenic Loop, Texas 
This spectacular 250-mile route through western Texas skims the Mexico border and the path of the Rio Grande. The route, from Presidio to the Rio Grande Village, carves its way through the Big Bend Ranch State Park — a rugged desert wilderness area bigger than Rhode Island. With over 300 different bird species living in the park, it is a haven for birdwatchers. Or for those seeking a more exhilarating experience, the park is packed with outdoor activities, from rafting, horse riding, and 4×4 tours to canoeing, mountain biking, and fishing.

2. Colorado Scenic Byway
For wildlife lovers, there is no better road trip destination than through Colorado, where you are likely to catch a glimpse of bears, wolves, birds of prey, and many other forest-dwelling animals. The Colorado River Headwaters Scenic Byway runs 80 miles from State Bridge to Grand Lake, cutting directly through Rocky Mountain National Park.

3. Montana to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Begin your journey in Bozeman, Mont., by taking a dip in the geothermal hot springs before starting the 135-mile trip through Yellowstone National Park, across the state border into Wyoming, and down to the historic Old Faithful geyser. Breathtaking panoramic views and incredible wildlife spotting will keep you entertained the entire ride.

4. The BBQ Trail, South Carolina
Aside from taking road trips, there is another pastime that has become just as synonymous with American culture — the art of barbecue. So what better way to vacation than to combine the two activities. While Texas and Kansas are both big contenders on the “World’s Best BBQ” front, South Carolina is actually the birthplace of this fabulous food genre. The South Carolina Barbecue Map offers trippers the opportunity to customize their tour among more than 250 BBQ joints, so whether you want to journey to one or attempt to tick all of them off your list, the BBQ Trail might just be the greatest foodie challenge ever.

5. Eureka, California to Coos Bay, Oregon 
While the Pacific Coast Highway is the West Coast’s most iconic roadway, the 250-mile journey from Eureka in Northern California to Coos Bay on the central Oregon coastline is just as spectacular. Starting out in the historic Redwood Empire region of California, visitors can check out the historic old town or even venture up into the national forest to check out the towering redwoods in person. From there the journey weaves along the stunning coastline, with white-sand beaches, sand dunes, and even the dramatic forest-scapes where Jurassic Park was partly filmed.

 

Image credit: Blaine Harrington III / Alamy