Legislation has been introduced on Capitol Hill allowing trucking companies the option of using hair testing for illegal drugs as an approved method of screening drivers.

Companion bills introduced Wednesday in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to recognize hair testing as an optional method to comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation drug testing requirements for commercial truck drivers.

Under current federal regulations, only urinalysis is recognized by the HHS for mandatory pre-employment drug and alcohol exams of truck driver applicants.

Supporters of this legislation say the number of truck driver applicants who pass a pre-employment urine test, but fail a subsequent hair test, is alarmingly high. They say this is the reason some trucking companies have turned to hair testing, which is more expensive, but allegedly more effective in identifying drug users who apply for jobs as truck drivers.

The House bill, HR3403, was introduced by Rick Crawford, R-Ark. and is cosponsored by Tom Cotton, R- Ark., Steve Womack, R-Ark., Tim Griffin, R-Ark. and Reid Ribble, R-‐Wisc.. The Senate measure, S1625, was introduced by Mark Pryor, D-Ark and is cosponsored by John Boozman, R-Ark.

“We applaud this bipartisan effort of our Arkansas congressional delegation and Congressman Reid Ribble from Wisconsin for introducing legislation that will help keep drug users out of our freight trucks and off our nation’s highways,” said Lane Kidd, senior manager of the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (known as The Trucking Alliance) and president of the Arkansas Trucking Association.

The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security/The Trucking Alliance is made up of several of the nation’s largest trucking companies including: J.B. Hunt Transport, Knight Transportation, Maverick Transportation and Schneider National, among others, which also supports speed limiters and electronic on-board recorders on trucks.

“Passing this much-needed legislation will give trucking companies the option of conducting either a urinalysis or a hair test or both methods and will also allow positive hair tests to be reported to the soon-to-be-created national drug and alcohol clearinghouse that Congress adopted last year," says Gary Salisbury, a member of the Trucking Alliance board of directors and the current chairman of the Arkansas Trucking Association.

Congress mandated the creation of a drug and alcohol clearinghouse last year and the Department of Transportation is expected to have the clearinghouse operational by next year. This database will identify any person who has previously tested positive on a pre-employment drug exam required by the federal government before being employed as a truck driver. However, unless HHS recognizes hair testing as an approved methodology, no positive hair test results can be submitted to the national clearinghouse database. The legislation introduced will enable those drug test results to be reported to the clearinghouse.

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