To be employed as a tractor trailer driver, you must undergo a mandatory urine test that detects the presence of illegal drugs in your system. Drug use reduces your ability to safely maneuver large equipment, making you a considerable risk on the highway and a leading contributor in many trucking accidents.
Mandatory urine testing has been used in the industry for many years; however, a number of commercial carrier companies are now pushing for federal approval of hair testing as well. Hair testing could aid the fight to reduce truck accidents and is thought to be more accurate than urine tests.
In the meantime, truck accident lawyers representing those injured in truck wrecks point out that like everything else, there are two sides of the story.
Drug Testing Using Urine and Hair
Urine testing is done as a part of pre-employment screening to ensure that commercial carrier companies hire safe drivers who are not abusing illegal drugs. Just like alcohol, drug use makes it more likely you could be involved in serious trucking accidents where you or others may be severely injured.
Yet truck accident lawyers as well as others in this industry are aware that urine testing has many limitations that reduce its accuracy.
Hair testing can provide more accurate results, especially in detecting the habitual use of drugs. It has been suggested by many in the commercial carrier industry that hair testing should become mandatory, that it would be more effective in reducing truck accidents caused by drug use.
Is Hair Testing Actually Better?
Hair testing can be more accurate than urine testing because it detects recent drug use and if you have used drugs in the past. Because of the way in which hair absorbs drugs in the bloodstream, it produces a specific metabolite that marks the follicle and remains detectable for up to 90 days. Four times as many positives are detected by using hair testing in comparison to urine testing.
While it is easy to see how this would be beneficial for reducing trucking accidents, there is a major issue with this method as suggested by those opposed. Since hair testing does not differentiate between substances only that a substance has been present in your bloodstream, the possibility of false positives is high. Prescription drugs and even environmental contaminants can generate the same markers that produce a positive result.
Additionally, the test requires at last an inch and a half of head hair or body hair; some people, for a variety of reasons, cannot provide a sample. Truck accident lawyers find that both of these situations can complicate the pre-employment drug screening process.
Hair Testing in the Trucking Industry Today
Hair testing is not yet federally approved for pre-employment screening of commercial drivers; however, individual companies still use it to satisfy their own hiring policies. Until such time that hair testing becomes a federally accepted method, you are still required to provide a mandatory urine sample for testing even if hair testing is done. Companies already using hair testing view it as an extra measure to determine if you are a safe hire. Yet the possibility of a false positive definitely raises some questions.
While many truck accident lawyers find pros and cons to both urine and hair testing, neither is recognized as a perfect method for reducing drug-related trucking accidents. Your best option as a driver is always to refrain from using illegal drugs that will decrease the chance of being involved in truck accidents. Beyond that, it is important that you understand how hair testing works and that a hiring company may require this screening along with a urine test!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190