Why is the DOT Taking So Long to Move on Hair Testing for Drugs?

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) used the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) stricter impaired-driving regulations as an opportunity to again push for the DOT to move forward on a process to allow motor carriers to collect hair samples for DOT-required drug testing in lieu of the currently mandated urine testing process. “ATA knows for a fact that thousands of truck drivers who have failed hair tests… have obtained driving positions with other carriers because they were able to pass DOT-authorized urine tests,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “All we are asking is for DOT to allow this industry to use the best available tools under the DOT-mandated drug and alcohol testing program to make sure our roads are safe for all motorists.” The practice of defeating and falsifying urine tests is widespread enough in the trucking industry to have prompted a Government Accountability Office investigation in 2007 that uncovered some disturbing problems. Beyond cheating, urine testing is limited even if done properly. Generally, it cannot detect use of heavier drugs longer than two or three days after use. Cocaine, methamphetamine and opiates are in and out of the digestive system very quickly. By contrast, telltale remains of most illicit substances reside in the core of hair follicles permanently.

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