In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, American Trucking Assns. President and CEO Chris Spear called for the federal government to quickly release guidelines and standards for the use of hair samples in mandatory drug testing of truck drivers.
“ATA spearheaded efforts to allow carriers to use hair testing as an alternate test method to traditional urinalysis in the most recent highway bill, but to date HHS has yet to issue the necessary standards to allow those tests to go forward,” ATA noted. This week, the HHS agency responsible for developing those standards, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, holds its Drug Testing Advisory Board meetings to consider hair testing.
“Many trucking companies are using urinalysis to meet federal requirements, while also paying the additional cost to conduct hair testing,” Spear said in his letter. “We are frustrated that the previous administration failed to meet the statutory deadline and believe your leadership will finally see a resolution to this long-standing and important safety rule.”
ATA maintained that it and many of its member carriers believe based on experience that hair testing is more effective at preventing habitual drug users from obtaining jobs as truck drivers.
“Making sure America’s truck drivers are safe and drug-free is among ATA’s highest priorities,” Spear said. “This commitment is why ATA led the charge for mandatory drug testing of commercial drivers, for the creation of a clearinghouse for drug and alcohol testing results and the use of hair testing.”
In January, several of the nation’s largest trucking companies petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a waiver that would permit the use of hair testing in lieu of urinalysis for driver drug and alcohol screens.
Labor groups, however, have opposed hair testing as an alternative to urinalysis, contending the method is inherently biased against people with curly hair and people of color.