The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President and CEO Todd Spencer rebuts the Trucking Alliance’s argument in favour of mandating hair-testing for our nation’s truck drivers, saying he felt compelled to respond in an attempt to address several misleading comments.
He begins by addressing the misconception that there is now a legislative mandate requiring commercial truck drivers to be hair-tested. Federal law requires the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in coordination with other federal agencies, to report to Congress on its progress in developing guidelines that might potentially address the use of hair-testing.
Second, the managing director of the Alliance for Driver Safety and Security, known as the Trucking Alliance, claims there is an opioid epidemic in the trucking industry but he presents no evidence to validate such a comment because there is no evidence to support such a claim, according to Spencer.
Spencer asserts that positive test results among truck drivers are so low – less than 1 percent – that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reduced the percentage of drivers that must be randomly tested.
The Trucking Alliance is also quoted, correctly, as saying that federal law requires potential guidelines to ensure that individuals within the trucking industry who might be exposed to certain drugs do not register a false positive. However, Spencer says there is no standard protocol for hair-testing, nor has there been any validated or reliable testing of hair samples allowing SAMSHA to propose guidelines that are scientifically valid. SAMSHA has reported this lack of science-based protocol.
Spencer is of the opinion that the Trucking Alliance continues to push for mandatory hair-testing to mitigate carriers from liability. While hair-testing can show the presence of various substances in an individual, the Trucking Alliance fails to show how such testing would prove driver impairment while operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Spencer concludes his op-ed by saying “I’m confident that the Trucking Alliance will continue to push for hair-testing, speed limiters, increased insurance minimums, and other federal mandates that disadvantage small-business carriers and infringe upon the rights of drivers, while at the same time complaining about a perceived driver shortage. If any group deserves a shortage, it’s them.”