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October 31, 2013 10:00 AM, EDT

Legislation Would Allow Hair Testing Alone for Required Truck-Driver Drug Tests

A senator and a representative  from Arkansas have introduced bills that would allow trucking companies to use hair samples to conduct the required pre-employment drug tests on driver applicants.

The bill would permit the hair testing to be used in place of urine testing, which is currently the only acceptable method for the pre-employment drug tests, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.)  said in an Oct. 31 statement.

“I take the safety of our roads and highways very seriously,” Crawford, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in the statement.

“My bill establishes hair-testing guidelines that will help trucking companies identify drug-abusing drivers,” Crawford said. “More importantly, 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.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is working on a proposal to create a national database of positive drug-and-alcohol tests from truck drivers.

“By allowing companies to eliminate duplicative processes, this bill will ensure our businesses have the certainty they need to invest, expand and create jobs while securing the safety of our highways for all motorists,” Pryor added.

The Trucking Alliance, a group of eight carriers that has pushed for wider use of hair testing, said in a statement that such testing is far more effective in weeding out drug users than urine testing. Many carriers test drivers’ hair samples already, but must also use urine tests to comply with federal rules.

“The number of truck driver applicants who pass a pre-employment urine test  but fail a subsequent hair test is alarmingly high,” the group said.

Crawford and Pryor introduced their bills Oct. 30. Both the Senate and the House have referred the bills to committees for consideration. The House bill has four co-sponsors, and the Senate bills has one.