In the trucking industry, liability is as common as heavy loads or long hours.
When truckers get behind the wheel to pilot 20-ton or 40-ton steel behemoths for hours at a time next to the motoring public, it is understandable that danger is a factor.
To mitigate these hazards as much as possible, carriers and safety groups have worked to make sure drivers are as alert and focused as they can be on the road. They’ve taken many steps toward this goal, including replacing paper logbooks with electronic logging devices and even pushing for sleep apnea screenings for interstate drives.
Not all of their efforts have been successful, but this hasn’t stopped some of the industry’s most prominent groups from continuing to campaign for change. One of these groups, the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (known more simply as the Trucking Alliance) has made this cause their mission.
They’re a group of freight and logistics organizations who come together with the goal of making a safer and more productive industry through the use of new technologies and regulations. One of the issues they’re currently undertaking is an effort to improve drug testing procedures for America’s truckers.
Drug testing is a common part of the trucking industry, as intoxicated drivers can present an obvious safety hazard on the roads. While most people can agree on this, there are concerns that the current methods used to detect mind-altering substances in a driver’s system may not be the most accurate.
The Trucking Alliance is currently pushing Congress to replace urinalysis with hair follicle tests. The later is much more thorough and can show the presence of drugs in a person’s system up to 30 days prior. This can reveal information about potential illegal drug usage drivers may engage in recreationally and also reveal data about potential long-term drug habits.
The initiative was modeled after a movement in Brazil which did the same thing and revealed a shocking find – many drivers who pass urine tests can fail hair follicle tests right after. The bigger takeaway from the tests? Many of the drivers are using opioids, which can go undetected in standard urine tests.
While urine tests are great at detecting things like marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs, opioids are a different matter entirely. They are harder to find in standard drug tests, primarily because said tests weren’t built for them. But while some older tests weren’t designed specifically for these substances, the substances themselves are becoming much more of a problem.
America’s opioid epidemic is reaching catastrophic levels, with many people turning to substances like OxyContin for pain relief or even casual highs. These substances are easy to obtain, and because they’re also hard to detect in the system, can be a prime source of addiction.
Hair tests could do a lot of good for the trucking industry. By catching drivers who may be under the influence or even predisposed to opioid addictions through recent behavior, the Trucking Alliance could help make their industry much safer.