The Trucking Alliance is looking to Congress to pass a law which would require carriers to use hair testing instead of urine tests to determine driver drug use. According to the group, hair testing would screen out those drivers who abuse opioids.
Also known by its formal name, the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, the Trucking Alliance is made up largely of megacarriers. Members include U.S. Xpress, Swift/Knight, J.B. Hunt, Maverick, and more.
Large carriers have tried in the past to get the FMCSA to allow hair testing instead of urine testing since they say that it is more accurate (though that is a hotly debated topic) and can detect drug use in a wider time frame. But this time, instead of asking for hair testing to be used as an alternative, they now want it to be required for every single pre-employment drug screening.
“Current drug testing methods for truck drivers are failing,” said Lane Kidd, managing director of The Trucking Alliance.
According to the Trucking Alliance, using a standard urine tests, opioid use would be undetectable within a few hours. With hair testing, the window widens to 90 days.
Many Trucking Alliance members already do hair testing, but since the FMCSA still requires urine testing as well, these carriers have to double up. They claim that hair testing is catching a lot of drug users that otherwise would have slipped through the cracks.
“We’ve had 154 drivers at Maverick who failed their hair test, after they passed a urine test. Those 154 drivers are working for another company,” explained Dean Newell, Vice President of Safety and Driver Training at Maverick USA. “They’re running up and down the road with our families and that is not acceptable.”
But there have been multiple questions raised about the efficacy of hair testing – including whether or not it’s more likely to produce false positives than other methods.
Asking the FMCSA to help them save money by dropping the urine testing requirement didn’t work in the past. Now the Trucking Alliance is lobbying Congress to take the matter a step further. According to Lane Kidd, the managing director for the Trucking Alliance, Congress is expected to introduce legislation requiring hair testing in January of 2019.