August 20, 2015 3:00 PM, EDT

Groups Press House Leaders to Reject Hair Testing Provision

Several transportation groups and key unions are calling on transportation leaders in the House to reject a provision in a multiyear highway bill that would allow the use of hair testing for commercial drivers.

“These legislative proposals arbitrarily grant motor carriers the ability to use this unsubstantiated method of testing,” wrote the AFL-CIO’s transportation division along with 17 groups Aug. 20. “It is widely known that hair specimens can test positive for a drug that its donor was merely exposed to but never actually ingested.”

The American Trucking Associations said, “It is disappointing that these groups have ignored the latest research on hair testing, which shows that laboratory sample washing procedures eliminate the potential for such false positives. Moreover, they ignore the worldwide acceptance of hair testing to detect drug use and the many accreditations the labs that conduct these tests have earned.”

The Air Line Pilots Association, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the United Steelworkers also signed the letter sent to Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, as well as Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, and the subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C. 

Read the Letter

House transportation authorizers are expected to advance a long-term highway bill when they return from their August recess.

On July 30, the Senate passed a six-year highway policy bill that would allow trucking companies to use hair sample testing for drivers as an alternative to urinalysis for certain pre-employment screening. The Senate provision has the backing of American Trucking Associations.