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Big fleets ask FMCSA for waiver to use only hair testing in drug screens

Big fleets ask FMCSA for waiver to use only hair testing in drug screens

'More reliable' than urinalysis, trucking companies say

A half dozen trucking companies, including several of the nation’s largest, have petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a waiver that would permit the use of hair testing in lieu of urinalysis for driver drug and alcohol screens.

J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., Schneider National Carriers Inc., Werner Enterprises Inc., Knight Transportation, Inc., Dupre Logistics Inc., and Maverick Transportation LLC all currently use hair analysis in addition to the FMCSA-required urine tests, according to the filing to be published Thursday in the Federal Register.

The applicants’ believe their data demonstrates that hair analysis is “a more reliable and comprehensive basis for ensuring detection of controlled substance use” and the exemption would enable these fleets to discontinue pre-employment urine testing, the notice states.

Currently, FMCSA’s controlled substances and alcohol testing regulations require that each employer ensure all testing conducted on CDL holders complies with the procedures under 49 CFR Part 40, which only allows urine testing.

Under the requested exemption, the carriers would conduct pre-employment tests using hair analysis only, rather than hair analysis in addition to urine testing.

“The applicant’s view their use of multiple screening methods as an unnecessary and redundant financial burden,” the FMCSA summary reads. “Also, the applicants consider urine testing to be less effective in pre-employment screening for drugs than hair analysis.”

The American Trucking Assns. has previously lobbied Congress to allow fleets to adopt hair testing, but labor groups have opposed such a measure, citing a racial bias in test results based on hair type and pigment.

FMCSA requests public comment on the exemption application. Comments may be submitted online beginning Jan. 19.

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