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RegulationTrucking

Carrier drug survey reveals need to “purge” 300,000 drivers

Data comparing pre-employment drug tests of truck driver applicants found evidence that thousands of habitual drug users are slipping through the federal drug screening system.

Compiled by the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (known as the Trucking Alliance), whose members include major truckload operators J.B. Hunt [NASDAQ: JBHT], U.S. Xpress [NYSE: USX] and Knight-Swift Transportation [NYSE: KNX], the “first of its kind” survey found that while 94 percent of the urinalysis and hair analysis of 151,662 applicants tested drug-free, thousands failed either or both tests.

Based on what the Trucking Alliance asserted is a “statistically valid sample” of 3.5 million commercial drivers, the survey projects with a 99 percent confidence level and less than 1 percent margin of error that 301,000 truck drivers currently on the road would fail or refuse a hair analysis.

“We have a huge drug abuse problem in the trucking industry, and should actually purge an estimated 300,000 commercial drivers to clean it up,” said Trucking Alliance Managing Director Lane Kidd in a statement. “No wonder truck accidents are on the rise.”

The results of the survey were recently submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) as well as to the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Highway Subcommittee before its hearing today (June 12) on the state of the trucking industry.

“The T&I Subcommittee can intervene to mitigate this problem,” the Alliance stated in comments to the subcommittee. The group wants lawmakers to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to complete hair test guidelines, which were mandated under the FAST Act surface transportation legislation in 2015 but have yet to be rolled out.

“Until DOT recognizes a hair analysis, no employer will be allowed to submit hair test failures into the pending USDOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. This will make it virtually impossible for another employer to know if a person applying for a truck driver job has previously failed a drug test,” according to the Alliance.

Testifying at the June 12 subcommittee hearing, American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear echoed the group’s concern. “[The hair-test guidelines] have been sitting at HHS for three years. DOT is ready to move forward on this. Get on HHS and get this thing done.”

The Alliance pointed out that DOT currently recognizes only urinalysis as a drug test method, allowing employers to require additional test methods as part of employer hiring practices. However, “a growing number of trucking company employers, including Trucking Alliance carriers, require a second drug test, a hair analysis, as part of their pre-employment truck driver hiring policies.”

Using urinalysis alone missed nine out of 10 illegal drug users, according to the Alliance survey. Cocaine was the most prevalent drug that tested positive, followed by 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.”

Some trucking experts contend that, while needed, more rigid federal guidelines and enforcement of drug testing will make it more difficult to seat drivers.

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John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

155 Comments

  1. They’re just being too intrusive and it’s over reaching. It’s an invasion of privacy and confidentiality of medical history. They say it’s an 8/10 panel test which is B.S. because the hair folical tests reveal everything,drugs,chemicals and what ever ingredients in cosmetics,food,drinks,prescriptions,vitamins,the air,smoke,gases you name it what ever enters our system/body. Which can be misinterpreted in so many ways. It’s none of their business if I take Viagra/coal is to enhance my sex life. Non of their business if I’m taking prescriptions for herpes or hepatitis c or aids meds or any other meds for health reasons other than meds that would affect my driving capabilities. Not only does the testing reveal everything but all is passed on to your employers whom are not sworn confidentiality and bring up your conditions in general conversations with anyone at any time to gossip even make jokes about or to humiliate the person. We all need to stick together everyone of is refuse every hair follicle test. What are they going to do,terminate and refuse employment to all of us? If they are unable to use it they can’t enforce it. Let’s stand together as human drivers protecting our rights and our integrity. I refuse them every time and yes I’ve been denied employment by most companies I’ve applied at and have been hired by a few others as well stating my point and concerns and having been agreed with.(And at times I think I’ve been UA drug tested a bit more frequently than my fellow coworkers.and that’s ok with me I pass every one of them).So come on say what you mean,mean what you say and take a stance we can get rid of this stupid hair follicle testing together,refuse to submit to it!

  2. I’ve been driving for almost 26 years. When I first started, yes I used. I won’t lie, I use occasionally now, MJ. I’ve passed, not by deluding my urine, just plain ole personal urine. I have failed drug test when I first started driving. But have never failed a pre employment, post accident or a random drug test in over 15 to 20yrs. Hair testing should not be used for any reason. Blood and urinalysis prove enough, positive or negative tests. No I don’t believe that one should be judged or told what they can and can not do on there personal time away from driving a commercial vehicle. If they do fail, then yes, there should be consequences.

  3. Can we talk about how sleep deprivation is affecting everyone on the road? ” It’s estimated that drowsy driving is responsible for 20% of all car crashes in the United States”…

  4. Not really.. but i am.totally against drugs and alcohol behind steering wheels of any form. Those users should be.kept off the road and offer treatment.for it before.coming back driving, and.it should apply to all drivers, commercial or not,
    Real.problem on the rising accidents are.the CDL mills, that major mega carriers has, they just get the student licensed and send.them with a supposed trainer that uses the student as co driver to increase they pay check, and that is fully supported by planners and diapatchers, so they do not get any training. Thats the real problem.

  5. I would never work for one of those big companies, that’s the Fuckin problem right there! If more of us stuck together and didn’t get in bed with the corporations they would go under and then they wouldn’t be there with their lobbies and groups and we wouldn’t have to worry about it … JUST SAY NO … TO MEGA FLEETS

  6. What a bunch of BS. I can tell you , as a safety professional, the hair test does not tell you what they currently have in their system. Also, this type of testing has constitutional problems. If a guy smokes a joint 3 months ago while he as not employed, it is of no concern to me, nor should it be. Many states have now made it legal. We need to know if they driver is CURRENTLY using. That is what is important. Not hiring a guy for what he did MONTHS before he even applied for the job is stupid and wrong. If he was not employed, who are we to deny employment based on that? It will fail in court. These idiots in the Trucking Alliance must have some other motivation for this horrible assessment. The urinalysis is very accurate in real time information on what is in the drivers system. The hair test is faulty. It’s really an invasion of privacy.

  7. Put freight on rail, then we won’t have problems with truck drivers on drugs

    1. I’d like to see that happen. Imagine pulling up to a receiver or shipper in a train. REALLY?

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