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Bill would require pilot program for hair drug testing truck drivers

Written by Steve Gursten Posted August 14th, 2013

Proposed bill would require motor carriers to screen with hair samples instead of urine testing

hair drug test trucking companies

Want to know how easy it is to beat a urine test, if you’re a truck driver who is using illegal drugs?  All you need do is flip to the ads in the back of nearly any trade magazine, and you will see all sorts of products that boldly advertise to let unsafe, drug- addicted truckers continue to use illegal drugs undetected.

But maybe there is a better way.  Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.) introduced a bill that would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish a pilot program to  evaluate using hair samples for drug use.

This could be a huge leap forward in the fight for safer highways and truck accident prevention.

Currently, many truck companies screen their truck drivers for drugs using urine sample tests, which poses two large problems:

  1. As I mentioned already, many  truck drivers know how to “beat” a urine test.  These truckers also can get very creative and go to extraordinary lengths to evade detection, even boldly providing old or false samples (or someone else’s urine) to pass a drug screen.
  2. More commonly, many truck drivers simply abstain from drug use in the weeks or even days leading up to the test. Methamphetamines and other drugs will remain in the urine for days.  But hair sampling can detect drug use that occurred literally months before the test date, as drug molecules stay firmly implanted in the hair for months.

Simply put, hair samples are a better drug test for truck drivers.

Making the move to hair sampling would greatly improve the drug screening process for all commercial motor vehicle drivers, and help prevent truck accidents by getting these drivers off the roads.

Meanwhile, some trucking companies are already using hair samples as part of their drug screening process.  For example, one company, Schneider, has screened 38,000 perspective employees for drugs using hair samples. Of all those tested, 1,411 failed the hair test.

Shockingly, from those 1,411, 90% were able to pass a urine screen. That’s about 1,270 dangerous truckers who have no business driving and transporting goods on our highways.

Clearly, something needs to be done about this. Truckers on drugs is unacceptable at a time when dangerous truck companies are hurting people on daily basis.

Luckily, there’s a lot of support for this measure.  Even the American Trucking Association (ATA), whom our attorneys have criticized before for their position on trucking industry reforms, agrees that hair testing for drugs is the best way to keep these dangerous truck drivers off of the road.

As it currently stands, those responsible trucking companies who care about safety, and routinely use hair testing cannot share drug testing results with other trucking companies.  This is because hair testing is not the mandated form of drug testing; urine analysis is.

However, several of these good companies and the DOT are pushing to have hair testing supplant urine analysis as an official drug testing method for all in the trucking industry.  The introduction of this bill is the first, and perhaps the biggest, step in making that happen.

For more information about the bill, see “Proposed Bill Requires Pilot Program for Drug Testing on Hair.”

Related information:

Truck companies adding hair cuts to their drug screening process

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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