American Trucking Associations president and CEO Bill Graves asked Congress to move forward with legislation that would allow fleets to use hair samples in a federally required program of drug screening for commercial drivers.
In a letter, Graves cited companies like Knight Transportation and Maverick Transportation as well as Fortune 500 companies like GM and Shell Oil that already use hair testing. Graves added that the cost of redundant mandatory urine tests prevents more fleets from using the hair-based drug testing method.
"Every day, thousands of hair tests are performed worldwide within both the private and public sectors," said Graves. "Their reason for using hair testing is laudable ... 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."
Graves said that ATA was aware of many truck drivers who tested positive for illegal drug use based on hair testing but obtained driving positions because they passed urine tests.
"Several of these drivers have had crashes and, of course, future ones are likely as a result,” said Graves.
Hair Testing has proved to be a controversial part of legislation like the DRIVE Act and Drug Free Commercial Driver Act. Last week, workers advocate groups sent a joint letter to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee requesting that hair testing be removed until the procedure was validated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The letter called hair testing into question citing evidence where the method could deliver false positives in cases where individuals had been exposed to illegal substances but never actually ingested it.
“The process Congress established years ago has created drug testing standards that are not only effective, but scientifically and forensically sound,” the groups stated. “Any changes to these standards must be backed by similar evidential support carefully studied by the experts with such authority.”
In ATA’s letter this week, Graves called the labor groups concerns unfounded and overblown. Citing a survey of four large carriers, Graves said that in 2015, 706 drivers failed pre-employment hair tests but passed urine tests.
"If the labor organizations opposed to the legislation had their way, these individuals would be driving tractor-trailers," said Graves. "Hair testing is a validated, proven and effective method for detecting illegal drug use that has been widely embraced by private industry and many governments worldwide.”
To read the full letter, click here.