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Trucking companies could soon use hair testing under new federal bill

Trucking companies could soon use hair testing under new federal bill

Semi Truck / Tractor Trailer at loading Dock

Reducing liability should be on every carrier’s list of most important goals. An Illinois transportation attorney knows that one key part of this is ensuring that drivers are acting appropriately and following the laws related to driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

When drivers choose to engage in these risky behaviors, they put the lives of those around them, the freight they are hauling, and their carrier’s reputation on the line.

While carriers are currently required by law to perform pre-employment and random drug checks on drivers, they are required to do so with urine tests only. A new bill recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would allow carriers to use an alternative method for testing.

About the bill

The bill, which is currently under review, aims to keep as many drunk and drugged truckers as possible off the nation’s roads. If passed, reports that the bill would allow the U.S. Department of Transportation to accept hair testing as an alternative to urine drug tests. This would give carriers greater flexibility when conducting annual testing and employee screenings. The legislation has widespread approval throughout the industry and bipartisan support in both houses of congress.

Advantages of hair testing

An Illinois transportation attorney understands that urine testing is commonly seen as a less effective method of detecting long-term drug users than hair testing. According to, the Government Accountability Office even outlined the limitations found with the current method of urine-only testing. Hair tests have a longstanding reputation as being difficult to evade or subvert, and they can alert potential employers of a long history of drug use even if the driver has sobered up for their drug testing date.

Potential for incredible loss

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2012 alone, truck accidents in which only property damage occurred cost carriers and shippers $21 billion. When considering all truck accidents that year, the FMCSA reports that the total cost of these accidents reached $99 billion. In 2012 enforcement inspections resulted in 1,136 drug and alcohol violations. However, only a little over four percent of trucks on the nation’s roads were involved in those inspections. The actual number of inebriated or incapacitated truckers running loads every year is likely to be significantly higher. Carriers risk losing money and clients when they fail to properly monitor and screen their drivers for these inappropriate practices.

Carriers who aim to reduce their risk with their drivers can see immense financial benefits over the cost of subscribing to such testing services. Businesses who need assistance learning about the potential new law and its effects in the industry should contact an Illinois Transportation attorney for additional information.

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