Press Release

ATA Commends House Appropriators for Pushing Hair Testing Forward

Jul 10, 2024

Washington— The American Trucking Associations applauded a provision in the House’s funding bill for the Department of Health and Human Services that would press HHS to establish hair testing guidance.   The legislation passed the House Appropriations Committee today by a vote of 31-25.
ATA strongly supports the recognition of hair testing as a federally accepted drug testing method.  Giving trucking companies the option to use hair testing as an alternative to urinalysis in meeting federal drug testing requirements would unlock tremendous cost and safety benefits for the trucking industry and the motoring public.  Although it has been nearly a decade since Congress mandated that HHS create a procedure for hair testing, the guidelines have yet to be finalized.
“For far too long and across multiple administrations, HHS has ignored a congressional directive and dragged its feet on creating an option for motor carriers to use hair testing to deter and detect drug use.  This interminable delay is unacceptable and inexcusable, and it puts highway safety at risk,” said American Trucking Associations President & CEO Chris Spear.  “We appreciate the House Appropriations Committee exerting pressure on HHS to finalize its long-overdue guidance and implement this proven method for drug testing.”
In 1991, with the staunch support of the trucking industry, Congress passed and President George H.W. Bush enacted a requirement that CDL holders and other transportation employees in safety-sensitive positions be subject to mandatory drug testing, aligning with policies many motor carriers already had on their books.
In 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report exposing the flaws in DOT’s drug-testing program.   The report identified several weaknesses and loopholes in the testing process, especially concerning ways drivers can easily subvert the urine testing process.
In 2015, again with the trucking industry’s backing, Congress passed and President Barack Obama enacted a requirement that HHS issue scientific and technical guidelines for incorporating hair testing into the DOT drug-testing program. 
In 2020, HHS published proposed guidelines that failed to comply with the 2015 law by stipulating that a positive hair test must be confirmed by a positive alternative specimen drug test, limiting its utility.
The report language approved by the House Appropriations Committee today would help restore congressional intent by instructing HHS to move forward with its guidelines for the use of hair testing as an alternative drug testing method for commercial motor vehicle operators and requests an update on HHS’ progress in its next budget justification.