“ICC is a checkin' on down the line
Well I'm a little overweight and my logbook's way behind
Well nothin' bothers me tonight I could dodge all the scales alright
Six days on the road and I'm a gonna make it home tonight”
--Earl Green and Peanut Montgomery
“Six Days on the Road” was a one-million-selling, gold disc song in 1963 as sung by Dave Dudley. I didn’t come upon the song until the 1990s, but even then the times had changed. In another verse of the song, there’s the line “I’m takin’ little white pills and my eyes are open wide.” (Some later versions changed this to something about white lines on the highway.) The times have changed: Were ole Dave driving today, he might make it home tonight but the odds are that after one of these trips he’d make it home and not be back on the road as a commercial driver for a heck of a lot longer than six days.
In October of this past year, the drug and alcohol regulations were changed. Some of the more significant changes were:
• Testing for MDMA (Ecstasy) — MDMA will be a target in the amphetamines screening assay, with confirmation testing for MDMA, MDA, and MDEA.
• Lowering cutoff levels for cocaine and amphetamines, and
• Conducting mandatory initial testing for heroin.
I know what most of you are thinking: “I don’t do drugs, not a problem.” And I’ve sworn off writing about drug and alcohol testing several times over the years as it seems to fall under the “duh” category of advice. And yet I get e-mails and talk to drivers every month who have made a mistake. The calls usually start with something along the lines of “Okay, I know I was stupid. I mean really stupid. But I was home after three weeks and … .”
Or here’s a sampling of recent e-mails:
“I failed a drug test over six years ago with [XYZ company] and since then I went into rehab, completed the program and have been drug free for five years. I have certificates on completing the program and paperwork. Why is this still hindering me from getting employment? Can you please let me know why this is still a problem? I need work desperately.”
“I recently had applied for a job with [ABC] trucking company and I was refused the job because I tested positive for illegal drugs. I had applied again elsewhere for another trucking company and even though I passed the drug test there I was let go because of what was on my report.”
“I took a drug test while training for my CDL. Would that show up on my DAC report and if it does, could it prevent me from attending another driving school to obtain my CDL?”
And so, I’ll say it again: Forget the moral, safety and Big Brother issues surrounding this — if you want to drive commercially, about the best way to waste money and screw up your driving career is to gamble in this area.
Even if you just got back from Iraq, it was your 40th birthday party or you got back with your high school sweetheart after 30 years. The times have changed. Cut-off levels are going down, new drugs are included in the screen and it’s easier for mistakes to follow you.
In 1963, Dave Dudley was singing about the ICC and little white pills. During the third shuttle mission in March, 1982, the wake-up song for the astronauts was Dudley’s version of “Six Days on the Road.” Good song, but times have changed.
Derek Hinton is the CEO of TIES LLC, better known as dotjobhistory.com. It allows drivers to obtain and verify their employment (DAC), driving and criminal records. They may then make this information available over the Web to employers who can access the information instantly.
Hinton has over 20 years experience in the areas of employment screening, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Motor Carrier Safety regulations. He began his career at DAC Services in 1984 and is the author of “The Criminal Records Manual,” a book that details criminal records in the hiring process. Contact information can be found at www.dotjobhistory.com.