Trucking companies must drug-test all applicants when hiring truck drivers. A driver must be tested again if he or she is involved in a truck accident that results in a serious injury or fatality. Those results are shared with The Department of Transportation (DOT), which regulates the trucking industry.
Currently, The Department of Transportation (DOT) accepts only one type of drug test: urinalysis.
Last week, The Drug Free Commercial Driver Act of 2015 was introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The bill would allow the DOT to recognize hair sample drug testing.
Why we need new drug tests for truckers
Urinalysis not very effective in detecting drug use: it only detects drugs used in the previous 2 or 3 days, at most.
Hair testing detects drugs used in the past 60 to 90 days.
Some carriers already use hair testing; the alarming data provided by these companies is part of the basis for the new legislation.
J.B. Hunt Transport data from driver applicants’ drug tests for the past 8 years:
- 110 driver applicants failed a urinalysis
- 3,845 driver applicants failed a hair test
This carrier used hair tests, but many others don’t—in part, because the DOT doesn’t accept the results.
What this means is that the thousands of licensed truck drivers who failed that hair test could have easily passed a urine test, and be driving for another fleet.
Why the trucking industry supports new drug tests
It’s unusual to see industry groups lobby for more—not less—federal regulation.
“ATA is committed to improving highway safety, including doing all we can to prevent individuals who use drugs or alcohol from driving trucks…”
– ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.
In fact, many major carriers have pushed for new drug-testing rules for years. Here’s why:
- Some trucking companies already perform hair tests on their drivers. The new law would let them send those results to the DOT—and stop using the relatively useless urinalysis tests.
- Drugged truckers increase the risk of truck accidents. That makes those drivers an insurance liability to the entire fleet.
- Truckers spend a lot of time behind the wheel: they need highways to be as safe as possible. Thousands of truckers who could pass a urine test, but not necessarily a hair test, are currently on the road.
Follow the progress of the bill on GovTrack.Us
For more on trucking law and safety, follow @kevincoluccio on Twitter