The Department of Transportation has very strict guidelines when it comes to drug testing people who work behind the wheel in a regulated industry. Right now, urinalysis is the only universally accepted drug testing method allowed. That means if a trucking company gets a positive test result for a driver, they are allowed to share the information with other employers in an effort to keep drivers from hitting the road under the influence.
Urine testing only detects drug usage within about a 48 hour period, and that is all that is legally required. If there is an accident or incident, this is helpful, but it’s not enough if you are trying to weed out chronic drug users.
Several trucking companies have decided to add hair follicle testing to their regular screening process because it can detect drug use as far back as 90 days. J.B. Hunt Transport Services told the Arkansas Business News that the company has kept more than 3,000 drivers out of their vehicles because they failed a hair test. Of those, only 90 had positive results on their urine samples.
Company officers might pat themselves on the back for catching these habitual users and keeping them away from their fleet; instead, they are frustrated because legally they are not allowed to share the hair testing results with other employers. That means those 3,000-plus drivers might not be in a J.B. Hunt vehicle, but they are probably on the road driving for someone else.
Advocacy groups are trying to get the DOT to allow companies to choose the testing method they feel is best, and allow them to share the results. A representative from the Arkansas Trucking Association says it is possible that legislation to make follicle analysis a standard form of testing might be introduced in Congress as early as this year.
In the meantime, hair follicle testing is available. It does cost more than the urinalysis, but the difference might be a small price to pay to keep impaired drivers off the road.
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