Fuel Smarts

House Bill Would Require Pilot Program for DOT Hair Testing for Drugs

December 05, 2012

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Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a pilot program to evaluate the use of hair samples to test commercial drivers for illicit drug use.


American Trucking Associations applauded the move.

For many years, ATA has supported improving drug and alcohol testing procedures for commercial drivers, ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. Hair testing, which research and experience shows can be much more effective than current, conventional sampling and testing methods."

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) is cosponsor.

No fleet wants to put the safety of the public at risk by putting an impaired driver behind the wheel of one its trucks, said ATA Chairman Mike Card, president of Combined Transport, Central Point, Ore. More effective drug testing procedures can help us make sure that doesn't happen.

Major fleets such as Schneider National, C.R. England and J.B. Hunt require drivers to undergo hair testing for drugs, but those results cannot be shared with other prospective employers like urine testing can.

The practice of defeating and falsifying urine tests is widespread enough in the trucking industry to have prompted a Government Accountability Office investigation in 2007 that uncovered some disturbing problems.

Undercover investigators were able to use bogus commercial driver's licenses at 24 drug-testing sites, proving that a driver could easily send a substitute in with a fake ID. In addition, 22 of the 24 sites did not follow testing protocols, which opened the door to further cheating, GAO found.

Hair testing for drugs is on the agenda of the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, known for short as The Trucking Alliance, which originally was formed to lobby for mandatory electronic onboard recorders. Its agenda for the next two-year congressional cycle includes promoting hair testing for drugs, creation of a drug and alcohol clearinghouse, and other issues.

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