by Lance Turner
Posted 10/31/2013 11:19 am
Updated 11 months ago
There's been some steps forward in key legislation for the trucking industry today, thanks to a bipartisan group of Arkansas' congressional delegates.
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., have proposed legislation that would instruct the U.S. Department of Transportation to recognize hair testing as an option when conducting drug and alcohol testing.
Arkansas Business wrote about the issue back in June. In short, current government regulations stipulate urinalysis as the only universally accepted and sharable method of drug testing for transportation companies, including J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell.
But J.B. Hunt also uses hair testing to screen its drivers, and the company told Arkansas Business earlier this year that the method is more accurate, can detect drug use over a longer window of time and is more tamper-proof than urinalysis.
The problem has been that companies can't report hair test results to others in the industry. That means that it's entirely possible that the 3,221 drivers who failed J.B. Hunt’s drug tests since 2006 are on the road for somebody else.
"Advanced uniform drug testing requirements for trucking companies will help cut costs, spur economic growth and improve safety on our roads," Boozman said in a news release announcing the legislation. "Hiring drivers who lead a drug-free lifestyle is good for the industry and other drivers who share the roads. It makes sense to have the most accurate drug tests available and the ability to share those results among the industry."
The bills, one introduced in the Senate and another in the House, both have the support of the Arkansas Trucking Association.
Update: I'm told that U.S. Reps. Tim Griffin and Steve Womack, both Arkansas Republicans, have signed on as bill co-sponsors.