ATA to Congress: Allow companies to use hair samples as part of drug screening programs

Fleets should be allowed to use hair samples as part of a federally mandated drug-screening program for commercial drivers, American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Bill Graves said.

In a letter to key members of Congress, Graves is looking to build support for a key component of the DRIVE Act (H.R. 22), also known as the Drug Free Commercial Driver Act of 2015 (H.R. 1467/S.806). Unions are opposing the measure, Graves noted in his letter, saying their concerns are “unfounded and overblown.”

“Every day, thousands of hair tests are performed worldwide within both the private and public sectors,” Graves wrote. “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.”

He added: “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,” he said. “Congress should remove impediments to the adoption of hair testing by trucking companies that follow industry standards . . . Moreover, Congress should reject efforts to protect the employment of drivers whose drug use might otherwise go undetected.”

Several Fortune 500 companies, such as General Motors and Shell Oil, and ATA members, such as Knight Transportation and Maverick Transportation, already use hair testing as part of their programs. A survey of just four large carriers revealed that, this year alone, 706 drivers failed pre-employment hair tests but passed urine tests.

“ATA is aware of thousands of truck drivers who have tested positive for illegal drug use on hair tests and have obtained driving positions with other carriers because they were subsequently able to pass DOT-required urine tests,” Graves said. “Several of these drivers have had crashes and, of course, future ones are likely as a result.”

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