The federal government has been trying for three years to figure out how to test truck drivers for drug use on the job. Experts estimate it will take another three years for any guidelines to be in place, McClatchy Newspapers reports. The government’s plan would test hair follicles. The trucking industry wants an enhanced test, fearing that as more states make marijuana use legal, the need grows for identifying drug-using drivers. The Department of Transportation requires drivers to submit to pre-employment and random urine-based drug testing throughout their careers. A company is required to drug test 10 percent of its drivers randomly every year.
Some larger trucking companies call the DOT’s urine tests ineffective and test employees by examining hair samples for traces of illegal substances. Employees who fail a hair test can be denied employment. In 2015, President Obama signed a law calling for comprehensive hair testing guidelines by December 2016. The guidelines still await federal approval, a process that could take another three years, say industry experts. It’s not clear why the process has taken so long. The Department of Health and Human Services forwarded a version of the guidelines to the Office of Management and Budget just this month. The proposed guidelines allow for failed hair test results to be entered into a national database that can be accessed by trucking companies, so every company will know if a potential applicant failed a drug test. A recent survey found that the federal urine test missed over 10,000 actual drug users. “It’s safe to assume that most drug users are skirting the system and are avoiding getting caught,” said Lane Kidd of the Trucking Alliance, an advocacy group. “It really makes the current drug testing method, if not a joke, it’s almost one.”