The Trucking Industry Could Roll Out Hair Drug Testing — Here’s Why That Matters

truck driver drug testing

The Trucking Industry Could Roll Out Hair Drug Testing — Here’s Why That Matters

Drug testing for drivers of large trucks is critical for keeping the trucking industry safe and preventing deadly truck wrecks. Truck drivers must pass a drug test before they begin driving, and they’re also subject to random drug tests throughout the year. To date, these tests have been five-panel urinalysis tests, which can detect amphetamines, marijuana, opiates, cocaine, and PCP in a driver’s system.

Unfortunately, results from urinalysis tests are easily faked and only detect drugs 30 days out from the test date. That’s why a proposed federal law would let trucking companies perform drug tests using hair samples — a proposal that’s been in process for over three years. While this testing method is not legal yet, the Department of Transportation anticipates a 2020 rollout.

Here’s what you need to know about the proposed hair testing rule.

What Are the Advantages of Using Hair for Truck Driver Drug Tests?

The proposed switch to hair-based drug testing offers critical improvements, including a longer drug detection window. Hair tests can reveal drug use for up to 90 days afterward, compared to only 30 days for urine. And the window for some drugs with urinalysis is much shorter: Cocaine can disappear from urine within three days, opiates as quickly as two.

Another significant advantage of hair-based testing is that it’s significantly harder for cheaters to manipulate results. For irresponsible drivers who use drugs, it’s relatively easy to cheat on urine drug tests by diluting their samples or providing a fake sample. With hair testing, the tester collects hair follicles directly at the time of the test. This process would effectively eliminate the ability to cheat and help ensure that drivers stay sober and safe behind the wheel.

RELATED: Studies Reveal Drugged and Distracted Driving Among Truckers

How Hair Testing Impacts Truck Crash Cases

After a truck crash, trucking companies must administer a drug test to the driver within 32 hours if the crash caused a fatality. Using hair instead of urine has the potential to revolutionize this process.

With urine testing methods, by the time the urine test gets conducted, the drugs could be out of the driver’s system. In the event of a devastating crash, hair provides a much more reliable way to test for narcotics since drugs that might otherwise disappear from a urine test show up in hair for much longer.

However, trucking companies are not necessarily required to perform a drug test if the crash did not immediately cause a fatality. In these cases, whether a drug test is required depends on a complicated patchwork of other factors described by federal regulations. For example, the requirement can depend on seemingly random factors like whether a tow truck had to arrive and take a vehicle away from the scene of the wreck.

Regardless of whether the trucking company is required to administer a drug test and what kind of test they use, you should always contact a truck accident lawyer after a wreck. You can’t trust the trucking companies to record and preserve vital evidence, but an experienced truck wreck attorney can perform a full investigation, uncover all the causes of the crash, and send a letter that compels the trucking company to preserve evidence.

Hurt in a Truck Wreck in Washington? Call Seattle Truck Law for Help

After a crash, you need a lawyer who isn’t afraid to stand up to big trucking carriers and their insurance companies. If you or someone you love has been hurt in an accident and you suspect the driver was impaired at the time of the crash, you deserve justice and answers. The team at Seattle Truck Law can help uncover drug testing records and demand answers if the company failed to follow the proper testing procedures.

To schedule your free initial consultation today, please call (866) 580-HURT or complete our quick and easy online contact form. The sooner you reach out, the sooner we can move to preserve evidence and protect your rights.


Lautieri, A. (2019, September 3). How long do opiates stay in your system? American Addiction Centers. Retrieved from

Miller, E. (2019, December 5). Hair drug-testing rule could become public in early 2020, official says. Transport Topics. Retrieved from

Wagener, D. (2020, March 7). How long does cocaine stay in your system? American Addiction Centers. Retrieved from

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.