Push On To Test Truck Drivers For Drugs Via Hair-Testing

Meanwhile, NTSB pushes for lower BAC limit and other alcohol-related rule changes for motorists

While the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) newly released a report on actions needed to eliminate alcohol-impaired driving by motorists has naturally garnered much media attention this week, the American Trucking Assns.(ATA) is prodding the Dept. of Transportation to take action to further curb truck impaired driving by truckers.

The day before the NTSB report came out, ATA said its president & CEO Bill Graves wrote to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to again urge DOT to allow motor carriers to collect hair samples for DOT-required drug testing in lieu of the currently mandated urine-testing process.

“ATA knows for a fact that thousands of truck drivers who have failed hair tests . . . have obtained driving positions with other carriers because they were able to pass DOT-authorized urine tests,” Graves wrote in the May 13th letter.

“All we are asking is for DOT to allow this industry to use the best available tools under the DOT-mandated drug-and-alcohol testing program to make sure our roads are safe for all motorists,” he added.

Hair-testing, it should be noted, does not reveal the presence of alcohol, only various drugs.

“The Truckload Carriers Assn. [TCA} does support the pursuit of regulatory and/or legislative changes to the FMCSA and/or DOT regulations to permit alternative specimens, such as hair, to be used to comply with federal drug testing requirements,” David Heller, TCA’s director of safety & policy, told FleetOwner.

NTSB on Tuesday released a lengthy report that delivers a list of specific recommendations to reduce alcohol-impaired driving on the nation’s roads. The most notable measure emphasized by the Board is to further reduce the current blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08 to 0.05 for motorists.

Of course, for some time there has been an even lower nationwide BAC limit of 0.04 in place along with random drug and alcohol testing for drivers of commercial vehicles.

But when it comes to motorists in general, NTSB is strongly convinced that much more needs to be done to reduce alcohol-impaired driving in this country.