Bills to allow trucking companies to conduct random drug testing using hair samples were introduced last week in both the House and Senate. The legislation was proposed with the support of the entire Congressional delegation from Arkansas and formally sponsored by Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.)
The Drug Free Commercial Driver Act of 2013, H.R. 3403, would only allow random hair tests to be performed if they also were used as a means of pre-employment testing. Therefore, the bill would affect mainly new hires and drivers at companies like J.B. Hunt, which uses hair samples for drug testing.
Although companies may use hair for drug testing now, they are not allowed to share that information with others. Instead, only urine tests are approved for pre-employment drug and alcohol testing. “This bill will allow trucking companies to submit positive hair test results to the national drug and alcohol database to ensure that we keep drug offenders out from behind the wheel of commercial trucks and off our nation's roads," Rep. Crawford says.
Hair testing is considered more reliable than urine tests. When drugs are used, molecules or metabolites associated with drug use are evident in the hair within 7 to 10 days, but remain traceable for as long as 90 days. Because the hair sample of 90 to 120 strands is taken in view of others, there is less chance of samples being falsified. In contrast, drugs may be detected in urine for one to seven days and in saliva for 5 to 45 hours, according to drug testing specialist Laboratory Corporation of America.
H.R. 3403 is supported by the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, which advocates keeping drug users off the nation’s highways.