The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (aka Trucking Alliance) applauded U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) today for introducing bipartisan legislation to improve the safety of America’s roads and highways by eliminating a hurdle in the commercial trucking industry’s pre-employment drug screening process.
The Drug Free Commercial Truck Driver Act of 2015 (S.806 and H.R. 1467) will allow the U.S. Department of Transportation to recognize hair testing as an alternative option to give companies greater flexibility when conducting drug and alcohol testing.
“This legislation will improve highway safety and protect the reputations of the safe and professional commercial drivers by removing those with a life style of drug use from behind the wheel of large trucks,” said Greer Woodruff, senior vice president of corporate safety and security for J.B. Hunt Transport in Lowell, Arkansas. “We appreciate the bipartisan efforts of the Senators and Congressmen that are co-sponsoring this important legislation.”
Under current procedures in the commercial trucking industry, a urinalysis is the only accepted method of drug and alcohol testing. While some employers use more advanced hair testing for their own purposes, the federal government requires duplicative urinalysis testing.
A urinalysis is often less effective in detecting substance abuse, with only a two to three day window of detection, than hair testing, which provides a 60-90 day window.
For example, between May 2006 and December 2014, J. B. Hunt Transport drug tested more than 82,000 commercial driver applicants as required by federal law. Of those tested, 3,845 people were undetected for drugs in the urine exam but tested positive on the hair exam for drug use.
“This statistic is alarming because while J.B. Hunt was able to avoid putting these drug users in a commercial truck, many of them are likely driving a commercial truck somewhere today for a company that only utilizes a urine test,” said Lane Kidd, managing director for the Trucking Alliance.
“Preventing drug-users from operating commercial trucks will improve safety on our roads and enhance industry standards,” Boozman said. “This legislation eliminates the duplicative drug-testing process and allows trucking companies to use the more effective option, without having to pay for two tests.”
“Americans rely every day on the safety of our roads and highways as they commute to their jobs, travel to schools and recreational activities, and transport goods and products across the country,” Manchin said. “That is why this commonsense legislation is so important. By allowing companies to use more accurate alcohol and drug testing techniques to test those operating commercial vehicles, we will not only help combat the fight against substance abuse, but we will also help improve the safety of our roads.”
The Senate legislation is also cosponsored by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). Similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-01).
“My bill’s only concern is improving the safety of our roads,” Crawford said. “Some drug users, when they know that a drug test is likely, are able to abstain for just a few days before the test and beat the system. This bill would catch a much larger percentage of those drivers and keep them off the roads. As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I’m always looking for ways to improve roadway safety, and this bill helps tackle that problem.”
This bill is supported by the American Trucking Associations and the Trucking Alliance.