Truckload operator Gordon Trucking is tightening pre-hire screening of driver applicants, requiring hair samples for drug testing well as urine samples.
Since the trucking company and its lab partner began testing hair samples in July, 10 out of 170 potential driver candidates have tested positive for drug use.
“We also routinely have candidates dismiss themselves from orientation classes once they confirm a hair test will be conducted,” said Scott Manthey, vice president of safety and compliance at the company, which has about 1,950 trucks.
Pacific, Wash.-based Gordon Trucking is one of many carriers tightening screening requirements for driver in the wake of several federal safety initiatives.
These truckers aren’t just splitting hairs by expanding their drug testing programs. They’re responding to a federal clampdown on safety and shipper concerns. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s CSA initiative more closely links carrier safety ratings with driver behavior in a close to real-time environment.
Shippers concerned about potential accident liability increasingly are questioning whether to use carriers whose safety ratings fall below CSA thresholds. Those pressures have carriers such as Gordon Trucking raising the bar for new drivers they hire and tightening standards, including drug testing.
Gordon Trucking partnered with Omega Laboratories, Mogodore, Ohio, which specializes in hair testing, to test samples collected from driver applicants.
Hair testing is more expensive than urine testing but can detect drug abuse over a longer period. Almost twice as many samples test positive than in urine tests.
Each half inch of head hair provides a 30-day history of drug use, while urine tests provide a two- to three-day history in most cases, Omega Laboratories said.