Schneider has done hair drug testing on 38,000 perspective employees and of those, 1, 411 have failed the hair test. Of those 1,411, 90% were able to pass a urine analysis.
“The urine-based drug test is simply not catching chronic drug users,” said Don Osterberg, senior vice president of safety and security at Schneider.
Schneider isn’t the only trucking company to add hair testing to its drug screening process, JB Hunt, Roche Transport and a few others have added the extra test to help weed out possible drug abusers.
Why isn’t a urine analysis satisfactory with these companies when it’s the only drug test mandated by the DOT? The answer is two-fold: drug abusers statistically have a higher accident rate and are therefore a larger liability and many drug abusers know how to pass urine analysis. Many simply abstain from drug use days to weeks prior to drug testing and others use more creative ways to pass the test.
Hair sampling can detect drug use that occurred months prior to the drug testing. Molecules of methamphetamine and other drugs remain in the urine for days but stay firmly implanted in the hair for months.
“It’s a deterrent,” said John Spiros, vice president of safety and claims management at Roehl, which began testing hair a year ago. “When people know that you’re doing hair-follicle testing, a lot of them won’t even apply.”
While hair testing is harder to cheat, it can also give a false positive result if the testee has been exposed to second-hand smoke from being in an enclosed space with a drug smoker.
Currently, companies who routinely use hair testing cannot share drug testing results with other trucking companies because hair testing is not the mandated form of drug testing; however, the companies that do require hair testing and the DOT are pushing to to have hair testing recognized as an official drug testing method for all in the trucking industry.
“The American Trucking Associations, the industry’s principal lobbying group, also wants hair testing in the database. But Abigail Potter, a research analyst with the organization, said that probably won’t happen without further Congressional action,” The Journal Sentinel reported. “The trucking industry recently won a related victory in Congress, which ordered the Transportation Department to establish a national database of drivers’ positive results on drug and alcohol tests. The database is to be up and running within two years, and motor carriers have to tap into it when they screen driver applicants.”
This debate is far from over. CDL Life will bring you updated information on this debate as it becomes available.