For all truckers: Did you know that there’s a push to allow drug screening using hair samples in place of the federally mandated urine test used today? A group of trucking companies believes that using hair as a test sample is a more effective and viable option compared to traditional urinalysis testing.
What is the purpose of the trucking group?
The group is made up of different trucking companies. As a whole, they support legislation and regulation that can help minimize trucking accidents and injuries. The group might sound familiar since they were involved in the passing of ELDs or Electronic Logging Devices in every commercial truck doing business in the country.
To know more about ELD check out https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-eld-mandate-trucking-2018-10 for more details.
The alliance was also involved in designing and creation of the national alcohol and drug database. The database identifies drivers that failed drug screenings before, as well as help, keep illegal substance users out of trucks. The group is now aiming to have the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allow trucking companies to use hair drug testing only in assessing people who want to apply for a commercial truck driving position.
Right now, the law in the country states that every trucking company is required to test every driver in their roster for illicit drugs using a urine sample testing. Companies are free to use other methods or supplement urine test with a hair screening, but they cannot report the results.
The alliance disagrees with the statement because they believe that illegal substance screening in the pre-employment phase of hiring drivers is a federal law. According to experts testing hair samples are considered as one of the most effective ways to know what type of drugs people are using and help keep them out of the commercial truck business.
But the federal government does not recognize these types of testing. As a matter of fact, freight transportation businesses that use hair samples for their drug testing cannot submit positive results to the new alcohol and drug clearinghouse that the United States Congress created in 2012.
According to the alliance, this type of screening is considered as one of the most effective ways to screen for people with drug-use history, and they believe that they need to place positive test results in the database for alcohol and drugs. This statement from the group raises the question, is hair screening more effective when it comes to finding habitual illegal substance users?
How effective is this kind of drug testing?
Follicle drug examination has been proven to be very useful in detecting people with a history of using opioids. For instance, if an individual were to take a conventional trucking drug test, they would only have to avoid taking opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine or morphine for a few hours before the scheduled examination.
There is a big chance that they will pass the examination and be out on the road driving big trucks under the influence of different kinds of opioids. But a follicle test will help detect drug history from the previous 90 days. As you can see, this kind of screening is by far have the most extensive detection period compared to other testing methods using samples like urine, saliva or blood.
It shows that urinalysis is only useful in detecting illegal substance use five to ten days before the scheduled test. So, does the group have a valid point? Should follicle examination be allowed? Trucking companies that choose to add follicle examination to their pre-employment screening have seen good results.
This staggering result helps drive the group’s point that it is a national problem for the industry. That is why the alliance is working hard lobbying the United States Congress for laws that would require every driver applicant to get tested using a hair follicle sample.
The downsides of using hair sample to test for drug use
The first downside of this type of examination is its cost. A trucking company that uses follicle screening for drugs are going to spend additional money on the cost themselves. This kind of selection usually cost the company around $125, double the cost of urine screening.
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The company will have to decide if the cost of screening the applicant using the hair sample is worth it. For most companies, it will be an easy choice because of the effectivity of the procedure. Although urine screening is around half the price of the follicle test, the ROI or Return on Investment is a lot greater compared to the cost. Another disadvantage of this procedure is the detection window.
According to experts, drivers could smoke cannabis or use cocaine and come back and do the process between, and the result will come back negative. But with urine screening, you are going to detect something as long as the procedure was conducted no more than 90 days after the last use.