Drug Screening Technique for Commercial Drivers 8/27/2015

On August 24, 2015, American Trucking Association (ATA) President and CEO Bill Graves encouraged Congress to push forward with legislation that would allow fleet owners to use hair samples as part of a federally-required drug screening program for commercial drivers.

Graves claimed in his letter to Congress that, “hair testing is an effective tool for identifying drug users due to its long detection window and because it is difficult for donors to beat the test.”

“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,” Graves said. “Several of these drivers have had crashes and, of course, future ones are likely as a result.”

The ATA statement also cited a survey of four large carriers in which it was revealed that, “this year alone, 706 drivers failed pre-employment hair tests but passed urine tests.”

ATA’s letter comes on the heels of another letter written to Congress by organized labor groups expressing their concern regarding hair testing legislation. Seventeen labor groups, including the Teamsters Union and the American Civil Liberties Union, want congress to remove the hair specimen testing requirement from legislation until the Department of Health and Human Services can validate the reliability of the this method of drug testing .

How Could This Affect Shippers?

If hair testing is proven to be a valid and reliable method of drug screening and replaces urine testing as the basic drug screening technique for commercial drivers, the result could lead to:

  1. An increased number of unsafe drivers taken off the road, improving the road safety and carrier quality
  2. An acceleration of the anticipated driver shortage
  3. Slightly higher freight rates industry wide. As lower quality drivers are taken off the road higher quality drivers may be able to command higher rates.