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HAIR TEST Continued from page 11

the urging of trucking companies and state associations, has not yet mandated hair testing over urine testing, though it is studying the matter. Primary opposition has come from unions

and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, who argue that hair testing, by going deeper into a person’s background, is an invasion or privacy. “I think they think this is a little too far, reaching into your background,” Stang said.

practices left the door open for drug test cheats. Also, some drugs like opiates,

amphetamines and cocaine are erased from urine fairly quickly, which leaves urinalysis, when done properly, only as a valuable method of detecting short-term drug use. A typical strand of hair from the scalp

offers a 90-day window for detection. The Internet and the market are full of sites

and products that advise and help individuals on methods of masking drugs in the system and beating drug tests while, so far, there is no known method for cheating a hair drug test.


It has been argued that a person who may

drink or smoke marijuana occasionally in his free time and is sober days later at the time of a mishap, would still have traces revealed in a hair test. Also, according to theNational Institute on

Drug Abuse, hair testing does not show recent drug abuse and may yield a positive test in those who have been in the room with those who smoked drugs, while not using the drugs themselves. Such a positive test may be unfortunate

for the driver in the wake of an accident, Stang said, but companies must do what they can to protect against legal action. “If you’re the guy that’s got millions of

dollars invested in the trucking company you’re going to want to know that I’m not only clean,” Stang said, “but some trial lawyer can’t look and say ‘Spook did drugs a month ago.’ ” This is not just the stuff of trucking

executives’ bad dreams. Arkansas-based J.B. Hunt suffered two tragic accidents in 2005 and early 2006. Three lives were lost and both drivers, who had clean records and passed DOT pre-employment urine tests, tested positive for cocaine at the scene. As a result, in 2006 J.B.Hunt became one

of the first major carriers to adopt hair testing, and the pre-employment hair tests led to an 80-percent drop in positive results in random urinalysis tests over seven years, a company official said. An undercover investigation by the

Government Accountability office in 2007 revealed a number of flaws in theDOT urinalysis screenings, as poor administering

16 Other fleets in other states have followed

J.B.Hunt’s example, though hair testing is more expensive than urine testing. An individual test can run to $60 while a bulk urine screening amounts to just a few dollars per test. And, since a company cannot submit a hair

test in place of a urine test for the mandatory DOT pre-employment screening, it would have to pay for both tests if it wants to use hair testing. SchneiderNational, Gordon Trucking and

Roehl Transport inWisconsin, andUtah-based C.R. England are among the companies who have gone to hair testing. In a pilot test conducted in 2011, C.R.

England collected hair and urine samples for a year and found, out of 2,000 candidates, over 150 tested positive who would have passed theDOT mandated urine test. Over 11 percent of the applicants tested positive with hair testing in the pilot study versus 2.8 percent who underwent theDOT urine test alone. Other studies have provided similar results. While the trucking companies and

associations are clamoring for the government to back and implement hair testing, Stang hopes that sooner or later, preferably sooner, Montana embraces hair testing as a universal part of drug screening in the state industry. Better for Montana to develop it on its own and be able to manage the details, Stang said, than to have it handed down in the form of a government mandate. “If you do it in Montana first you can

control how it’s done,” he said. “But if the feds beat us to it it’s their way or the highway.” RW

ROADWISE | ISSUE 4, 2013 |

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