Senators press regulators to speed up implementation of driver drug testing changes

| May 22, 2017

A group of Senators sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage the development of federal guidelines for hair testing to detect the use of drugs.

A letter penned by five U.S. senators last week to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price indicates that the department’s delay in issuing hair sample drug testing guidelines is keeping the Department of Transportation from approving the drug testing method for truckers.

The senators noted in the letter the December 2015-passed FAST Act highway bill required the HHS to issue guidelines for hair testing as a method of detecting the use of drugs within one year, but the Dec. 4, 2016, deadline passed without action. Failing to meet the deadline, the letter adds, has prevented the DOT from allowing hair testing to be a federally approved testing method.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) sent the letter May 18 requesting “swift action to be taken” to complete the “technical guidelines for hair testing standards.”

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“Development of these standards will pave the way for more employers to use this testing method and could potentially identify a greater number of safety-sensitive employees who violate federal drug testing regulations,” the letter states.

The American Trucking Association voiced its support to the senators, saying one of its top priorities is making sure truck drivers are safe and drug-free.

“The inherent advantages of hair testing are clear, which is why the previous administration’s failure to act – as required by law – was deeply frustrating,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “That lack of action is having a real impact on the trucking industry.”

In April, seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration asking the agency to allow a group of large trucking companies to begin testing by hair sample exclusively. The petitioning carriers include Knight Transportation, J.B. Hunt Transport, Maverick USA, Dupre Logistics, KLLM Transport, Crete Carrier Corp., Shaffer Trucking, Werner Enterprises, FFE Transportation, US Xpress, Cargo Transporters, HUB Group and Schneider National.

The National Transportation Safety Board has also recommended that the DOT adopt hair testing in lieu of urine testing.

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