A group which represents some of the largest carriers in the country says that the number one safety concern confronting trucking right now is illicit drug use. Their solution? Hair testing.
The Trucking Alliance told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that the industry-standard urine testing for pre-employment drug screenings are insufficient. Instead, the Alliance is asking for hair testing to be allowed to take the place of urine testing.
In its request, the Alliance says it analyzed the test results of 151,662 driver applicants to its carriers who all underwent both hair and urine testing. According to the Alliance, only 949 applicants failed urine sample tests, but 8,878 applicants failed hair sample tests.
“Put another way, the urinalysis missed 9 out of 10 actual illicit drug users,” said the Alliance.
The Alliance then goes on to claim that if those numbers were expanded across the whole industry, around 300,000 current truck drivers would fail a hair test due to illicit drugs including cocaine, opioids, and marijuana.
“Applicants who failed or refused the hair test were disqualified for employment at these companies, but likely obtained the same job elsewhere, at companies that administer only a urinalysis,” said the Alliance according to Fleetowner.
But critics of hair testing have pointed out in the past that the technique can actually produce more false positives than urine testing. Additionally, exposure to even trace amounts of second-hard smoke can show up as a positive result in hair testing.
Though The Trucking Alliance claims that this is the number one safety issue, there is nothing preventing hair testing from being carried out right now. In fact, many Alliance member carriers are already using hair testing as part of their pre-employment screenings. If the Alliance can get Congress to pressure the Department of Health and Human services to come up with hair testing guidelines however, they’d be one step closer to having hair testing eliminate the need for a urine test. If that happens, large carriers could be saving around $70 per applicant.