Strengthening Drug Tests for Truck Drivers


June 25, 2018 / Truck Accidents

In May, 2018, the Trucking Alliance (also known as the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security) publicly stated that they intend to advocate for a drug testing law that would apply to anyone seeking a “safety-sensitive” position in the trucking industry. One of the main purposes of the law is to address the increasing number of opioid addicts, keeping them out of a tractor-trailer driver’s seat. The proposed law would confirm that a potential employee had not used illegal drugs for a minimum of 30 days.

Don’t We Already Test Drivers for Drug Use?

You might think that the professionals who drive the big rigs would undergo the most comprehensive drug screening possible as part of the employment process. But the managing director for The Trucking Alliance, Lane Kidd, in a 2017 address stated, “Current drug testing methods for truck drivers are failing.” Kidd noted that J.B. Hunt Transportation discovered 1,213 applicants who came up positive when the company tested a hair strand to detect illegal drugs. Contrast this fact with the statistic that 9 out of 10 truck driver applicants at J.B. Hunt had already passed the urinalysis tests required by the federal government. “Clearly, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s pre-employment drug test protocols are missing most lifestyle drug users and opioid addicts, and that’s a national problem for our industry,” emphasized Kidd.

The opioid epidemic is a relatively recent phenomenon, and our laws have not kept up. Opioid drugs cannot be detected in a person’s body after only a few hours, which render urinalysis ineffective because users can simply avoid taking drugs for several hours beforehand. But a hair test for drugs will pick up opioid usage that took place as many as 90 days previous. Opioids that are abused by some truckers include morphine compounds that are sold under many brand names, as well as codeine, hydromorphone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, and fentanyl.

The Trucking Alliance, a confederation of logistics and freight companies that promotes trucking safety improvements through regulations and technology, based their opioid testing proposal on practices in Brazil. In that country, all commercial truck drivers must pass a hair test for drugs before they are allowed to renew their license. The Brazilian law, which went into effect in 2016, has identified more than one million truck drivers in that country who have either declined to renew their license or who failed the drug test.

Pushback from OOIDA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s data indicate that truck drivers tested positive for drugs in less than one percent of fatal crashes in 2015. For that reason, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) continues to insist there is no reason to require hair testing. The OOIDA Foundation believes that the Alliance’s position on hair testing as a safety issue is “a solution in search of a problem,” and that insufficient evidence exists to prove that hair testing will make the current testing situation better.

Activity in Congress

Seven Republican Congressmen are on record in support of a petition by several trucking companies to allow hair-based drug testing in place of urinalysis in order to meet the U.S. Department of Transportation’s drug-testing requirements for truck drivers. The trucking companies want to use hair testing because it has a higher level of reliable results. The current petition would allow trucking companies to use only hair testing for all drugs, as opposed to a hair test for opioids and a urine test for other illegal drugs. Even though hair testing is twice as expensive as urinalysis, by using only hair testing, the companies, as a group, would actually save more than $2 million per year.

Hand the worry over to us and let our resources back you up.

Indiana truck accident cases can be complex legal claims that require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of a truck accident, a financial recovery can ease the burdens of overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, we suggest you talk with the Indianapolis truck accident lawyers at Stephenson Rife. Both Mike Stephenson, with his more than three decades of experience, and Brady Rife, with his diverse experience in personal injury litigation, will commit the highest standards of client care to your case. Call Mike or Brady today for a free consultation, or use our online contact form.

Featured Posts

  • Can Automatic Emergency Braking systems reduce accidents?Can automatic emergency braking systems reduce accidents?
    In Vehicle Accidents
    Car accidents can have a devastating impact on the lives of crash victims and their families. Not only do they experience fear and uncertainty, but there can also be huge medical bills, time off work, and ongoing pain and suffering. That’s why government agencies and advocacy groups are always on the lookout for ways to make vehicles safer, often employing technology and autonomous, smart-vehicle innovations to enhance manufacturing […]
  • Slow Cooker Crock PotSunbeam Crock-Pot Recall
    In Product Injury
    Burned by a Sunbeam Crock-Pot? – You May be Entitled to Compensation When you buy a product and use it as intended, you don’t expect it to injure you; too often, though, products we assume are safe fail and cause major injuries or even death. Victims may be left with high medical bills and physical and mental pain and suffering, and be unable to work. In cases like these, when someone has been harmed by using products that should have […]
  • personal injuryHow long do you have to sue for personal injury?
    In Personal Injury
    The statute of limitations on personal injury cases is two years in Indiana. This means an accident victim has just 24 months to file a lawsuit after being injured. The clock starts from the date of the accident or injury, with just a few exceptions. If you miss this window of opportunity, you risk having your case dismissed. Many people who have suffered an injury – whether slip & fall, car crash, or workplace – often ask the […]

Archives