FMCSA reopens comments on hair for drug tests

In response to requests by driver unions, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has re-opened the public comment period on a request made by several major carriers to allow them to test driver applicants for drug use with hair samples instead of urine samples as currently required.

The original comment period ended Feb. 21. The extended period now ends April 25.

A petition was filed Jan. 19 by J.B. Hunt, Schneider, Werner, Knight Transportation, Dupree Logistics and Maverick Transportation asking the FMCSA they be allowed to test drivers for drug use with only hair samples. The carriers already test their driver applicants’ hair, but are still required by the FMCSA to perform urine tests. The companies say the urine tests are unnecessary, costly and not s accurate as hair testing.

Several driver unions, including the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department and the Teamsters Union, asked the FMCSA to extend the comment period to give them more time to evaluate the data filed with the companies’ petition.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also asked the FMCSA to deny the carriers’ request. It says the FMCSA should wait until federal guidelines for hair sample testing are established by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The FAST Act highway funding law passed in 2015 stipulates that HHS must develop guidelines for hair testing. The carrier group argues the deadline for HHS to publish guidelines for hair testing has passed, delaying carriers’ ability to halt urine tests in favor of hair tests alone.

Comments on the petitions may be made online.