Current Industry News

Drug testing is a regular part of the lives for anyone in the trucking industry. The industry has for years made attempts to keep those under the influence of drugs and alcohol from being able to get behind the wheel of a commercial truck. Obviously to do so would introduce a great amount of danger onto our roadways and would endanger the lives of many people every day.

While most people agree that keeping those under the influence out of trucks is a good idea, not everyone agrees on the standard test that should be administered. The American Trucking Associations has urged Congress to get behind a bill that has recently been introduced that would allow trucking companies to use hair testing as a method of drug-testing drivers, according to a press release from the ATA.

The legislation is a bipartisan effort that would allow trucking companies to use hair samples to conduct drug testing, which the ATA says is an effective tool in the ongoing fight to prevent those who are under the influence of drugs from getting behind the wheel of a truck.

“ATA is committed to improving highway safety, including doing all we can to prevent individuals who use drugs or alcohol from driving trucks,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “ATA was an early advocate of mandatory drug and alcohol testing of drivers before it was required, and has since promoted improvements such as hair testing and the creation of a national test results clearinghouse. ATA’s advocacy has resulted in a steady decline in the small percentage of drivers who use drugs, and hair testing is the next logical step.”

The bill, named the Drug-Free Commercial Driver Act of 2015, was introduced in the Senate by Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and in the House of Representatives by Representatives Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.). The act would allow fleets the option of using hair tests as an alternative to urine tests, which are the current standard, in order to meet federal drug and alcohol testing requirements.

Some fleets currently voluntarily conduct hair tests in addition to the required urine tests, to identify habitual drug users. Some drivers have reportedly been able to “beat the test” by abstaining for a short period of time or by using other means. In 2008, the Government Accountability Office said that the limitations of the Department of Transportation’s drug testing program were significant.

Proponents of the bill argue that hair tests are more reliable and offer a greater degree of certainty because they are more difficult to circumvent. “Leading employers in a variety of industries around the world have recognized that hair testing is a very effective method to detect drug use,” said Dean Newell, vice president of safety and driver training, Maverick USA, Little Rock, Ark. “Hair tests are difficult to evade or subvert and provide a better window into an applicant’s potential history of drug use.”

Graves noted that adding hair samples would allow trucking companies more flexibility to find habitual users and thus ensure a greater degree of responsible trucking on America’s roads. “Though the trucking industry’s positive testing rate is remarkably low,  Congress should provide a means for fleets, as part of the DOT testing regime, to further identify and eliminate from the industry those who don’t share the industry’s commitment to highway safety,” said Graves.

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American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation’s freight. ATA is active with political issues and is an advocate for the trucking industry, making frequent statements on political issues that affect the trucking industry. Follow ATA on Twitter or on Facebook. Trucking Moves America Forward.