Changes to Drug Testing Coming

Kevin Anderson Employment and Labor, Regulations, Transportation

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is being asked to speed up the changes coming to the trucking industry regarding drug testing. Several congressmen recently petitioned the agency to begin allowing drug testing using hair as soon as the Department of Health and Human Services establishes guidelines for drug tests using hair.

Currently the medium used to test whether a truck driver is using or has recently used drugs is urine. But thanks to a provision in the FAST Act of 2015, another medium, hair, will be allowed going forward. That is just one of many provisions that changed the trucking landscape when it was passed, but it could go a long way to improving the way drug testing takes place.

At this point the only thing holding up the testing of hair instead of urine for many companies is the green light from the FMCSA. And they have not approved any processes until DHHS has guidelines in place that companies can follow to correctly test hair for drug use. Companies would rather move forward now, versus waiting until the federal government finishes on its own timetable.

Testing Hair Instead of Urine

There are many reasons why it is preferable to use hair tests to detect drugs, and not urine tests. But there are also reasons why urine tests are as popular as they are. Many of the reasons urine tests have become almost universal in the drug testing world include:

  • It is an economical and widely available test;
  • Many different drugs can be tested at the same time;
  • The ability to test can be done in a number of places, and by a number of companies or by a principal themselves;

But there are drawbacks when it comes to urine drug screenings as well:

  • These tests can be easily tampered with through exchanges or dilution;
  • It is a personal way of testing that requires an invasion of privacy;
  • It does not track results from a long period of time.

So while there are benefits to urine drug screens, the negatives are there as well.

There a number of positives when it comes to testing hair for drug use:

  • The test is less intrusive;
  • It is a more accurate and reliable test;
  • The results are difficult to manipulate;
  • The test can detect drug use from up to 90 days prior.

The positives associated with drug tests using hair far outweigh the negatives, and are why companies are eager to begin testing as soon as they can. Many companies think it is important enough to mobilize several congressmen to expedite the changes announced by the FAST Act.

Change is Constant

There is one constant with the trucking industry and the laws which regulate it, and that is change. There are changes in regulations, rules, laws, and court rulings every day. Your company needs the right legal team to ensure you get the most up to date counsel available, to ensure your success. That is one of the many services we offer at Anderson and Yamada, contact us today.