One of the most important aspects of any trucking business is keeping both drivers and others on the road safe, and one of the most efficient ways to do this is to subject drivers and other safety personnel to drug testing. There are a number of different drug testing methods, but one of the most common and accurate is hair follicle testing.
The company you drive for may have different drug use and hair follicle testing policies, and most have a zero-tolerance policy for any drug use. Therefore, it is important for truck drivers to understand the policies of their employers and to refrain from using drugs if they wish to maintain their employment.
How Does Hair Follicle Drug Testing Work?
As a method of drug testing, hair follicle testing is considered more accurate and reliable than other types of drug tests because it can detect drug use over a longer period. This makes it an especially popular choice for trucking companies, as they are required by federal regulations to drug test drivers and other “safety-sensitive” employees, like mechanics and dispatchers.
Generally speaking, the procedure for a hair follicle test includes the following steps:
- Sample Collection – A small sample of hair is collected from the individual being tested, usually from the scalp but sometimes from other parts of the body. The hair is usually collected from the root end and needs to be at least 1.5 inches long and the width of a pencil.
- Sample Preparation – The collected hair is washed to remove any external contaminants or substances that may have adhered to it. The hair is then cut into small pieces and placed in a test tube for further analysis.
- Drug Extraction -The test tube containing the hair sample is treated with a special solution to break down the hair and release any drug metabolites that may be present. The extracted material is then purified and concentrated before it is ready for analysis.
- Analysis – The purified sample is analyzed using advanced laboratory techniques such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) or liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to identify any drugs or drug metabolites present in the sample. The test can detect drug use that has occurred within the past 90 days, as drugs will remain in the hair follicles during this time period.
- Reporting – The results of the hair follicle drug test are typically reported to the person who ordered the test, such as an employer or healthcare provider. The results are often categorized as positive or negative based on whether drugs or drug metabolites were detected in the hair sample.
What Do Trucking Companies Look For With Hair Follicle Testing?
Many trucking companies use hair follicle testing as a tool to help ensure that their drivers are not using drugs, which can obviously impair their ability to safely drive their trucks. The main strength of hair follicle testing is that it detects drug use that may have occurred within the past 90 days, which is longer than other types of drug tests such as urine or saliva tests.
Specifically, trucking companies are looking for the presence of common illegal drugs, such as:
- Marijuana (THC)
- Opiates (including heroin, morphine, and codeine)
While trucking companies usually have strict drug and alcohol policies in place that prohibit drivers from using drugs or alcohol while on the job, there are also extensive federal regulations put in place by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that requires companies to drug test their drivers prior to them being hired, at random intervals, after an accident, or under reasonable suspicion of drug use. When companies fail to meet these regulations, it can have a disastrous impact on the business.
Aside from compliance and the length of detection, there are a number of other benefits that make hair follicle testing an effective method of drug testing drivers. These include:
- Difficult to tamper with – Hair follicle testing is more difficult to tamper with than other types of drug tests, such as urine tests. Tampering with or diluting a sample to produce a false negative result. Because hair samples are collected under direct observation and cannot be easily substituted, adulteration is less likely to occur.
- Comprehensive results – Hair follicle testing can detect a wide range of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and PCP. This makes it a comprehensive tool for detecting drug use.
- Reliable and accurate – Hair follicle testing is considered to be a reliable and accurate method of drug testing, with a low rate of false positives and false negatives.
- Non-invasive – Hair follicle testing is a non-invasive method of drug testing that does not require the individual being tested to provide a blood or urine sample. This can make it a more comfortable and convenient option for individuals who may be uncomfortable with other types of drug tests.
- Deters drug use – The use of hair-follicle testing can act as a deterrent to drug use among employees, as it sends a clear message that drug use will not be tolerated in the workplace.
As a truck driver, your top priority should always be your safety, and by extension, the safety of others on the road. Being subjected to any type of drug testing is a way to achieve this, as the consequences of using drugs could mean you lose your job.
Get Started With Fleet Drug Testing To Keep Your Business Moving
Whether you’re a driver or manage a trucking company, you know how important it is to take the necessary steps to ensure that drugs or alcohol aren’t being used on the job. By implementing a comprehensive drug testing program, you can help ensure the safety of your drivers and the public, as well as protect your business from the negative consequences of drug-related incidents, like accidents, injuries, and liability claims.
So don’t wait – take action today and contact our team of experienced professionals at Fleet Drug Testing to keep your business moving safely and successfully into the future.