Hair Testing Vs. Urinalysis (Transportation Industry)

Hair Testing Vs. Urinalysis (Transportation Industry)

About The Client

J.B. Hunt Transport Services is one of the largest transportation logistics companies in North America. Their motto: “We are a company that believes that safety always comes first. Nothing else matters more.”


As a motor carrier, J.B. Hunt conducts urinalysis drug tests in accordance with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations in order to satisfy federal testing requirements. However a series of events led the company to believe that urinalysis alone was not working: First there were reports of drug use in some shops, then there were two unfortunate crashes where J.B. Hunt drivers were involved in accidents that claimed three lives. Both drivers had clean records, but both tested positive at the scene for cocaine. All DOT required (urinalysis) tests had been conducted and it was concluded that these drivers were likely substituting their urine samples. These incidents caused J.B. Hunt to look for a more effective, reliable drug test and hair testing was one of the options they explored. Hair testing detects drug use approximately 3 months back, as opposed to urinalysis, which typically only detects drug use from the past few days and sometimes as little as hours. Users cannot “beat the system” by abstaining from drug use in the days leading up to the test, or take evasive action by adulterating or tampering with the test. J.B. Hunt also appreciated the ease of the hair testing collection process. With urinalysis, they had to isolate the location to prevent specimen substitution – resulting in no work being done for several hours. With hair, substitution is not an issue, so employees could continue to work until their name was called.


A decision was made to begin hair testing and notices were made to all drivers and all support departments. A program to allow voluntary self-report and to obtain assistance in quitting was also implemented for existing employees. J.B. Hunt began using Psychemedics hair testing for maintenance facility sweeps in 2005, and in 2006 driver pre-employment and random hair tests were phased in by location. After August 2006 (and still currently), it was standard that a hair sample was also collected at the time the DOT pre-employment urine sample was collected. All office and shop applicants were also tested before hire.

Results Of The Program

• Psychemedics’ hair testing positive rate was 7.1 times that of urinalysis.

• Pre-employment positives on the hair tests started out near 15% and then dropped quickly as word got out to the public that they were hair testing.

• The DOT Random Urine positive rate began to drop rapidly as drug users were removed from the fleet.

• Many drivers who passed the DOT urinalysis test but failed the hair test are likely working somewhere else.