Despite the concerns of these six truck carriers, an article on Bloomberg BNA indicates that there is little agreement that hair follicle drug testing is more accurate than urinalysis.
For example, the article states that “Hair specimens can test positive for drugs that the donor was merely exposed to – known as external contamination – but didn’t use. A federal appeals court has also found the procedure to be scientifically unreliable, ruling in favor of black police officers in Boston who argued that studies show an inherent racial bias because darker and more porous hair retains drugs at greater rates.”
And in fact several civil rights organizations – including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – have pushed against the use of hair drug testing, believing that there are ulterior motives why the large truck carriers are pushing for hair follicle test.
One motive that may be driving the big carriers is that they know that hair follicle tests cost double that of a urine test, but they also realize that they can “negotiate lower rates with testing businesses and laboratories, and often do.”
As a result, the big truck carriers know that smaller carriers would not be able to afford the cost of hair follicle tests. Smaller carriers that don’t use hair follicle testing “could then be characterized as being less safe, whether they do so because they don’t want to pay double for hair tests or because they don’t want to use a procedure that lacks a widespread, scientific consensus.”
For now, the debate continues as the FMCSA has not ruled on whether it will allow the six truck carriers to use hair follicle drug testing, but this is clearly an issue that will be debated until the FMCSA makes a final ruling.