Study backs increased use of hair tests for truck drivers

Study backs increased use of hair tests for truck drivers

Trucking businesses did research and found that urinalysis misses most drug use among truck drivers.

The research was funded by the Trucking Alliance. It used data from over 1 million drug tests administered to truckers between 2017 and 2022. 

Hair follicle testing found more marijuana, amphetamine/methamphetamine, and opioid users than urine testing. The research concludes that ‘hard’ drug use among drivers is prevalent.

Trucking Alliance Advocates for Hair Testing for Detecting Drug Use Among Truck Drivers

Hair samples showed higher rates of positive drug tests across all substances and age groups in every state.

The Trucking Alliance argues that hair testing is a viable alternative to urine testing for detecting drug usage during the hiring process.

Trucking Alliance Managing Director Lane Kidd stated that the study concludes that our family and friends are driving alongside thousands of truck drivers who use illegal drugs. All planes would be grounded if airline pilots had similar drug test data.

Drug testing Results

Source: Doug Voss, Joe Cangelosi, and Ming Li, University of Central Arkansas, 2023 study

Effectiveness of Hair Testing for Drugs in Transportation Not Yet Accepted by Federal Officials

According to University of Central Arkansas scholar Doug Voss, hair testing for drugs in transportation works. 

The huge sample size and different drug-positive rates for hair and urine tests explain this. He said that at some point, it’s like arguing whether the sun will rise tomorrow.

Federal officials don’t allow carriers to submit hair test results to the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse run by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. 

Firms that conduct hair tests for safety reasons face higher costs and may struggle to compete with those that do not.

The study points out that drivers who fail a hair test can work for a carrier that only uses urine testing without completing the federally mandated rehabilitation process.

In a prior study, Voss and his colleagues concluded that submitting hair drug samples to FMCSA would ban an extra 276,500 drivers from the road.

Owner-Operators Against Hair Testing for Drug Screening

Most owner-operators oppose the legalization of hair testing as a valid drug screening method. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association argues against federal authorities requiring it. They cite high expenses and insufficient proof of its safety.

OOIDA doubted the Trucking Alliance’s recent report. They argued that the Alliance’s prior studies had supported misleading claims in the hair-testing argument.

OOIDA claimed that the current results were based on shadier research. OOIDA will investigate their flimsy accusations, which they undoubtedly hope no one notices.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will provide hair testing recommendations as a proposed rule instead of the final regulation. This suggests to OOIDA that this drug-use detection system has unanswered scientific and technological problems.

Final wording

HHS’s newest recommended guideline is forthcoming. Hair testing in the trucking/logistics industry could improve safety by identifying and preventing drug users from driving trucks. 

On the other hand, it could result in additional costs for trucking companies administering hair tests voluntarily and may lead to a shortage of drivers if a significant number fail the test. The industry and regulators’ response will determine the impact.