To help ensure the safety of both Professional Truck Drivers and everyone else on the roads, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) require everyone with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to be drug tested both before being hired, and randomly for the duration of their career.
As it is quick and easy, urine testing has become the gold standard in meeting these regulations. But it has its downfalls as well. Urine testing is easy to tamper with and only detects drug use within one week. Why else should trucking companies be turning to hair testing? A few reasons:
1. Hair stores information for up to 90 days.
Since hair absorbs blood directly though the follicle’s root as it grows, when people use drugs, the hair stores traces of them for up to 90 days. Unlike urine testing which only detects drug use within the last few days, hair testing paints a clearer picture of a person’s lifestyle and history, even providing a timeline of when someone last took or stopped taking drugs.
2. Hair testing is precise and specific.
Up to 10 times more sensitive than urinalyses, hair testing can detect whether the drug use was intermittently, occasionally or regularly, meaning it can differentiate between addictive and recreational drug use. It can detect drugs like marijuana, amphetamines, MDMA (ecstasy), MDEA (eve), cocaine, opiates, heroin, codeine, morphine, phencyclidine (PCP), and more.
3. Unlike a uranalysis, hair testing is non-intrusive.
Naturally, urine drug tests require privacy to obtain a sample. Hair samples can be taken painlessly, quickly, and easily in an open setting.
4. A hair drug test is almost impossible to cheat.
Whether it’s drinking excessive amounts of water to dilute the urine, or using someone else urine entirely, a urinalysis can be cheated. Since hair can be taken from any part of the body, to avoid detection in a hair test, one would have to have completely shaved or waxed his or her entire body. Even substituting hair is impossible as the tester cuts the sample directly from the subject at the time of testing.
5. Hair can be tested more than once.
Whether the hair test comes back positive or negative, unlike many other forms of drug testing, the specimen can be retested, allowing for an additional layer of accuracy and safety.
Though there are, of course, down sides to hair testing, including a higher cost and an inability to detect drug use within one week of the test, studies have shown that 85% of drug users identified through hair testing would have be missed through urine testing.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to keep drug users off the road. It’s a matter of safety for everyone we know and love. With hair testing, we have the technology to help keep them safe. There’s no excuse not to use it.”
– U.S. Xpress President & CEO Eric Fuller
Many trucking companies across the country agree with Fuller, when it comes to finding clean, responsible drivers to help maintain the safety of everyone on the roads, the pros far outweigh the cons, and hair testing is not just here to stay, it’s vital for everyone’s safety.