Mar 19 2015
WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Joe Manchin (D-WV) today introduced 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 Driver Act of 2015 would 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.
Under current procedures in the commercial trucking industry, 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. Unfortunately, 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, from May 2006 - December 2014, J.B. Hunt Transport’s drug testing data found that out of more than 82,000 driver applicants who took a mandatory drug test, 3,845 people were undetected for drug use in their urine exam but had drug-positive hair test results.Schneider National’s pre-employment drug testing data from March 2008-June 2012, found 120 prospective drivers failed the urine test, while 1,400 applicants had drug-positive hair test results. These discrepancies are causing many trucking companies to pay additional costs for both methods of testing.
“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 Association and the Trucking Alliance.