Last updated: January 30, 2023
On February 28th, 2022, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced making changes to its employee drug test that allows the use of the oral fluid drug test. Originally, the DOT set the comment period to close on March 30, 2022. However, the DOT has extended the closing date for comment submissions. Comments will now be accepted until April 29, 2022.
The DOT received numerous requests to extend the comment period from stakeholders. The reason was that they didn’t feel the March 3oth closing date allowed them enough time to prepare and submit their comments to the docket.
Adding the oral fluid test
The DOT proposed amending the transportation industry’s drug-testing program to include the oral fluid method as an alternative method to the urine drug test.
The reasons for allowing this alternative include:
- Provides a way for employers to combat cheating on the urine drug test—Employees are never out of sight of the testing technician.
- Not as intrusive as the urine drug test—Holding a mouth swab in place is far less invasive than peeing in a cup.
- Less expensive than the urine drug test—Always a plus when running a business!
Also, some employers want to use the oral fluid drug test because it detects recent drug use. If the employee is involved in an accident or a reasonable suspicion incident, for instance, and the employee tests positive for marijuana, meth, opioids—any drug actually—the result is available in minutes. It would warrant taking on the expense of a blood test to determine if the employee is “high in the moment.”
As always, the DOT comment period provided time for anyone connected with the department’s drug-testing program to voice their opinion on the matter—pro or con. The department plans to use the information obtained in finalizing the mandate before allowing it to be added to the drug testing process.
The fact that they harkened to the call to allow for more time to provide those responses proves that the Department of Transportation wants to work hand-in-hand with employers of the safety-sensitive workforce. They realize that by doing so, the outcome will be safer roadways for all that travel on them.
Drug testing works
The Department of Transportation started drug testing back in 1991 when the U.S. Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act. The need for drug testing became apparent after two major accidents occurred. The employees had drugs in their system.
It was then that congress voted to add employee drug testing into all divisions of the safety-sensitive workforce.
- Mass transit
Drug testing has proved to be a great deterrent in all realms of the workforce. Oftentimes, when someone who uses drugs knows there will be a drug test, they don’t even bother to apply for the position. We’ll note, too, that advancements in drug testing technology are making a difference. It makes it harder and harder for employees to “cheat” the test and obtain false-negative results.
Keeping America’s roadways safe for all is the primary purpose of the DOT. Including the mouth swab test as an approved method for employee drug testing is another step in the right direction.