Petitioners Continue Their Fight For Hair Follicle Testing To Replace Urinalysis

As of early 2017, several large motor carriers—Dupré Logistics, Maverick Transportation, Knight Transportation, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, and two others—began petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow hair follicle drug testing instead of urine testing. Their reason? They claim that hair follicle testing is more effective than urine drug testing when it comes to stopping individuals who abuse drugs from getting truck driving jobs.

Trying To Keep Drug Abusers Off The Road

While these petitioners began their plea in early 2017, they’re still working hard to get the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to clear this request. Their point is that if the FMCSA allows hair follicle testing instead of urine testing, drug abusers will be more easily identified because the companies could share failed hair follicle test results with other firms. Currently, federal regulations do not allow transportation companies to share these results, and drug abusers are getting jobs that these petitioners feel the drivers should not have.

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A Long Waiting Game

The issue arises because of red tape and long waiting periods. While the FAST Act highway bill permitted hair follicle testing instead of urine testing in 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services has suspended that permission, saying that they need more time to “develop their guidelines”. They report that “more time” could end up being years. Yes, that’s right—years.

This is why the petitioners are taking matters into their own hands and petitioning. In March 2017, one of the head petitioners wrote a letter to the HHS with a plea to release the guidelines so that hair follicle drug testing can help keep drug abusers off the road (at least, off the road in commercial trucks).

The Benefits Of Hair Testing

While hair follicle testing is more expensive than urine testing, it’s also more effective, as it can detect drug use from a further time back, and it’s much more difficult for employees to cheat on. Hair follicle testing can detect drug use from the last 90 days, while urine testing only detects drug use from the last 72 hours.

A standard 5 panel hair drug test looks for amphetamines (methamphetamine, ecstasy, MDMA and MDA), cocaine, opiates (codeine, morphine, and heroin), PCP, and marijuana. Hair follicle testing has been thoroughly researched, analyzed, and implemented across a wide spectrum of employee classifications and industries, and has been proven effective.

It has been reported that the positive rate for hair testing is 3.56% compared to only 0.30% for urine testing. The bottom line is, about twleve times more drug abusers are identified through hair follicle testing than through urine testing.
Whether you agree or not that hair follicle testing is more effective than urine testing, the petitioner’s fight is good food for thought, and their attempt to share more accurate results of drug screenings that show drug abuse with other employers is for a great cause: road safety.

New Era Drug Testing is a DOT drug testing company in Los Angeles, CA. We offer programs and solutions to businesses who need to be DOT-compliant. If you have any questions about our DOT drug compliance services for employers, please feel free to contact us.