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  • OTVI.USA
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  • DATVF.CHIATL
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  • DATVF.LAXDAL
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  • DATVF.SEALAX
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  • DATVF.VEU
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  • ITVI.USA
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  • OTRI.USA
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  • OTVI.USA
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Driver issuesNewsTrucking Regulation

Required hair testing in trucking could take years

Long-awaited guidelines on using hair tests to detect drugs in the workplace have been sent to the White House but a federal requirement for truck drivers will likely take years, according to a trucking policy expert.

“Scientific and technical guidelines for the inclusion of hair specimens” to detect illegal drugs, along with standards for certifying laboratories in federal agency drug testing, was sent by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), an agency within the executive branch, on June 11.

Because the guidelines are more than two years overdue – Congress had directed the guidelines be issued in December 2016 – their arrival at OMB is significant.

“This has been a long time in coming, and it represents seriousness on the part of HHS to move these forward,” David Osiecki, President and CEO of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, told FreightWaves. “But it’s just a step, not the final rule.”

Osiecki pointed out that once the OMB approval process is completed – which itself could take 90 days or more – two federal agencies would have to go through a rulemaking process before hair testing for drugs is required for commercial drivers: one from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC), and one from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

ODAPC advises the DOT secretary and publishes regulations on drug and alcohol testing among the federally regulated transportation modes. Each modal agency then must adopt testing procedures based on those regulations, Osiecki explained.

“So we’re actually years away from hair testing in the commercial trucking sector due to the steps that still have to be taken,” he said.

That’s either good or bad, depending on where you sit. At a Congressional hearing on June 12, American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear testified that hair tests for drug use are more difficult to subvert.

“However, since urine is the only sample type permitted under DOT regulations, companies that voluntarily conduct hair tests must do so in addition to mandatory urine tests. This duplicated time and expense deters fleets from adopting this more effective testing method,” Spear said.

The ATA’s support for mandatory hair testing was bolstered by drug-test survey data released by the Trucking Alliance that found over 300,000 drivers currently on the road would fail or refuse a hair analysis.

Small business truckers represented by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), however, have so far opposed requiring hair testing in federal drug and alcohol test procedures.

“We have concerns about hair testing, such as biases toward hair color and texture, and the lack of any evidence of a connection between hair testing and crash reduction,” OOIDA told FreightWaves in a statement.

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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.

83 Comments

    1. I wouldn’t let them smoke pot in my house and if I knew they smoked it at all I’d disown there ass family or not! Drug users are all garbage and should be tested as such

      1. Buddy you might want to go back and look at your self first I think you put ur pants on just like everyone else one leg at a time u dumb ass

  1. This is a non issue, by the time the regulations are done and ready, most drivers won’t be needed anyways thanks to AI and autonomous driving. However, the simple facts are that hair testing covers 90 days where as blood and urine are testable for up to 30 days depending on substance. That will cause there to be a smaller group of people who are qualified and willing to work for the low pay many new truckers are offered. Besides, I don’t see there being huge improvements in driver performance between 30 and 90 days assuming its random still. Though this is a huge profit potential for labs that have the proper equipment.

  2. I thought they were trying to close the shortage gap of drivers, what I do on my home time is my business. Not my employers.

  3. Yeah go ahead do it !… then go have a beer and a cigarette to relax after a long hard day of ?? Ruining the lives of people who used a less dangerous chemical during their off time!
    What a bunch of daddy’s boys .. gov. Jumps!

  4. For those proposing these new guidelines , let the testing start with them. They also have a job to perform that affects the safety of the public. How can we get that rule instated

  5. So this is what’s next, the government another step closer to 1984. Why do we need testing that goes back 60 days. I go to Vegas and eat a couple legal edibles and I loose my CDL 45 days later.? Bull crap. Meanwhile the pos beer guzzling trump voters get in their truck hungover or still drunk at the JB/swift/Knight yard and cruise down the road. I think all truck should have ignition interlocks that detect alchohol and then blood test after an accident. No amount of testing is going to stop addiction and drivers from using drugs. The hardcore addict always finds a way to get around it. There is already many products to pass hair testing.

    1. Hey I think you dropped your double standard, blame trump voters cause you wanted to get high and failed a drug test.
      What was that you said? I think it was no amount of testing will stop the addict?

  6. Whats this? More government regulation and over reach that hurts the industry again?
    ITS NONE OF THE GOVS DAMN BUISNESS….
    knock knock hello, free market says it weeds out the bad because thats what companies do and dont need a “helping” hand from the dam thieving gov.

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