Safety Advocates Urge Congress to Permit Hair Drug Testing for Truckers, Rather than Urine Testing

September 10, 2015

When trucking companies first hire new drivers – or when drivers are in accidents or are involved in certain activities, companies are required to conduct urine drug testing on drivers per federal trucking regulations. These tests can detect the presence of at least five classes of drugs for up to a few weeks after the drugs have been used.

A debate over whether hair drug testing for truckers should be allowed to replace urine testing is heating up in Congress, a Beaverton truck accident attorney explains. Here’s a closer look at the two sides.

A debate over whether hair drug testing for truckers should be allowed to replace urine testing is heating up in Congress, a Beaverton truck accident attorney explains. Here’s a closer look at the two sides.

This drug testing is not adequate for evaluating which drivers may be habitual drug users, however, trucking safety advocates at the American Trucking Association (ATA) have alleged. And, this has motivated them to send a letter to Congress, asking lawmakers to update federal trucking regulations to permit trucking companies to use hair drug testing – in place of urine testing – when assessing the potential risks associated with some drivers.

At this point, hair drug testing can be used along with urine testing. However, the costs of conducting both are too excessive for smaller trucking companies, leading many to only rely on the less comprehensive urine testing to be in compliance. This is leading to situations in which drivers who are habitual drug users are able to pass urine tests, evading detection when it comes to their history of drug use, the ATA has pointed out.

As ATA President Bill Graves noted in this letter to lawmakers:

ATA is aware of thousands of truck drivers who have tested positive for illegal drug use on hair tests and have obtained driving positions with other carriers because they were subsequently able to pass DOT-required urine tests… Several of these drivers have had crashes and, of course, future ones are likely as a result.

Hair testing is a validated, proven and effective method for detecting illegal drug use that has been widely embraced by private industry and many governments worldwide…Congress should remove impediments to the adoption of hair testing by trucking companies that follow industry standards . . . Moreover, Congress should reject efforts to protect the employment of drivers whose drug use might otherwise go undetected.

Hair Drug Testing for Truck Drivers Can Lead to Bias, Inaccurate Results, Critics Say

While there seems to be some valid reasons to allow hair drug testing for truck drivers, not everyone is onboard with this push. In fact, some of the major backlash to the ATA’s request has come from trucking companies and labor unions who have noted that use of hair drug testing could lead to:

  • Less accurate results – Environmental factors, such as people being around others who are smoking certain types of drugs, can lead to “false positives” on hair drug tests, critics have noted.
  • Racial biases – Some research has indicated that people with darker hair may be far more likely to get “false positives” from hair drug testing due to having higher concentrations of melanin in their hair strands.

Graves’ response to these points of contention is that they are “unfounded and overblown.”

Are you for or against allowing hair drug testing – in place of urine drug testing – for truck drivers? Share your opinion with us on Facebook & Google+.

Contact a Beaverton Truck Accident Attorney at the Weimar Law Offices

If you have been injured in a truck accident caused by an impaired or negligent truck driver, Beaverton Truck Accident Attorney Linda Weimar is ready to aggressively advocate your rights both inside and outside of the courtroom. To get professional legal advice during a free initial consult, call us at (503) 640-5000 or email us using the Contact form on this page.

From our offices in Beaverton, Attorney Linda Weimar represents people with various types of personal injury claims throughout Washington County, including in West Side and Hillsboro.

Categories: Preventing Truck Accidents, Truck Accidents