Last updated: March 27, 2023
Hair follicle drug testing is being advocated as an alternative to urinalysis for DOT drug testing because it offers an extended detection window.
One of the largest and most vocal is The Trucking Alliance, which is made up of seven companies: Dupre Logistics, Knight-Swift, J.B. Hunt, Cargo Transporters, Maverick USA, U.S Xpress and KLLM Transport. Instead of approaching the issue from an administrative angle, The Trucking Alliance lobbied Congress, using the opiate epidemic to bolster their position. At the start of the year, four out of the seven companies (Dupre, J.B. Hunt, Maverick USA and Knight-Swift) joined forces with Werner Enterprises and Schneider Transportation to convince the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSA) that hair follicle testing is necessary. This followed their presentation to the United Nations, concerning the relationship between road safety and technology in Brazil. Vice president of driver training and safety at Maverick, Dean Newell, was the man tasked with presenting the need for hair testing before the United Nations assembly.
In the presentation, he argues that the Department of Transportation’s drug testing is a problem, considering that traces of most drugs are present in hair samples for weeks, but can be identified in urine in for only a few days.
Lane Kidd, director of The Trucking Alliance, states that his group is hoping for a drug test requirement that proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a driver hasn’t abused drugs in the last month. This method of drug testing is already prevalent in Brazil.
Why hair tests could be the future of DOT drug testing
Earlier in February, there was a report by John Paul Hampstead on the impact of Brazilian tests on disabilities and death. Based on his article, Mr. Paul is convinced that hair testing has many benefits.
This will go a long way in boosting the safety measures and cut down insurance costs to respective carriers. In 2016, all professional Brazilian drivers were required to undergo hair testing to renew their licenses. They were categorized into C (straight trucks), D (bus drivers) and E (articulated buses and semi-trucks). Their various categories would, later on, appear on their licenses as a clear indication that they’ve undergone thorough screening.
That same year, the Brazil Federal Highway Police reveals that the hair testing prevented approximately 25,000 road accidents. This resulted in a 21% decline in accidents and a 39% drop in deaths and disabilities. Based on these findings, a law was passed that involves hair-follicle drug testing for all professional drivers.
Why not do away with urinalysis then?
The Department of Transportation currently only permits urinalysis drug tests that have undergone screening at laboratories that have been certified by the Health and Human Services.
This, however, does not rule out the possibility of incorporating hair follicle drug tests in the near future, especially considering that the HHS is currently working on the necessary hair testing protocols. With these protocols, it’s possible that this may soon become an approved testing method.