Industry Divided Over Oral-Fluid Drug Testing For Truckers

Industry Divided Over Oral-Fluid Drug Testing For Truckers
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This may be relevant to you. Or if not to you, then to a friend. And if not to a friend, maybe a friend who’s died because of drug intoxication. Getting addicted and driving under the influence remains a rapidly growing problem in the logistics industry. In a service wholly dedicated to delivering essential goods for the benefit of the continental United States, such an instance doesn’t spell good news for the public at large. Why is that the case? Because driving across the nation, day-in and day-out is a stressful ordeal that requires focus, professionalism and a truckload of energy. And sometimes the easiest way for truckers to harness energy is through foreign substances. The DOT is suggesting oral fluid testing. And the whole industry seems to have something to say about it, when it comes to checking if truck drivers are using drugs or alcohol before or during a job.

Just so you know, oral fluid testing checks if you have drugs or alcohol by selecting a saliva sample from a subject and analyzing it for hormones, antibodies or other molecules.

Various organizations in the logistics community have raised opinions about oral-fluid testing for DUI truckers. Here are a few of those schools of thought.

Truckload Carriers Association

The Truckload Carriers Association is totally okay with the Department of Transportation believing that pee tests won’t show enough of cheating the system. This is because of the age-old notion that one can alter their urine or simply swap it out before getting in their 18-wheeler and hitting the highway. All thanks to privacy rights. Thing about oral fluid testing, however, is that it is very non-invasive. The TCA says that it “provides a non-invasive, directly observable method which reduces the likelihood of cheating.”

They go on to say that “The purpose of the system is to allow employers to know if a prospective driver has previously failed a drug test, but if hair testing remains unconsidered, the program information will not accurately flag illicit drug users who failed a hair test but were able to pass a urine or oral fluid test.”

So they’re cool with it.

American Trucking Associations

The American Trucking Associations believe that plenty of the provisions are fine when it comes to oral fluid. In fact, they agree especially because it would be way more cost-effective for employers and add more flexibility in order to show which test method is the most adequate for the drug testing program. Additionally, the collecting part is easier with oral fluid.

“If an employer does not currently self-collect because they do not have a facility qualified for urine collections, the addition of oral fluid to the DOT testing program would make self-collections a possibility for them.” That’s what they said in a statement. But there’s one thing they don’t like about oral fluid testing.

Lessening the specimen retention requirements.

They think it’s okay to lower it from one year to 90 days. And that might be very incongruent for drivers who have to submit to post-accident drug and alcohol tests, after a potentially—or actually—fatal crash! “In these instances, and in the event that a court order requires re-testing, it is imperative that all relevant evidence remains available.”

The Trucking Alliance

Ever the lovers of hair testing, the Trucking Alliance has been hoping for more positive testing reform amongst owner-operators and fleets alike. Rather than speak about how cool oral fluid testing could be, however, they instead have bashed the practice of urine testing. 90% of failing hair testers pass their urinalysis. So, at least chemically, there’s bias.

The group claims “Most habitual illegal drug users will pass either drug test because both testing methods have a short detection window for detecting harder drugs like cocaine, heroin, and other opioids.”

So it’s easy to tell that they’re pretty excited about something like oral fluid testing from the DOT, because it maintains more consistency in the results than urine testing does overall.

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

Also known as the OOIDA, they have agreed with DOT in the amount of time that can be saved in taking an oral fluid specimen versus collecting a urine specimen. They go on to say that oral fluid testing is especially convenient to conduct such tests in a wider range of locations while also allowing for flexibility and cost savings.

OOIDA stays stringent, however, in believing that oral fluid testing should still remain private.

“In recent years, the privacy rights of truckers have been obstructed by electronic logging devices that track their whereabouts, the growth of automated license plate readers that unfairly target drivers for enforcement, and a lack of cybersecurity protection from DOT’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners,” OOIDA stated.


Many have outright opposed it. Stating it’s “unneccessary” and “without merit.” That oral fluid testing is a means of stealing DNA and insulting intelligence. Afterall, they have to comply with strict testing protocols from the DOT already. Perhaps instead of introducing a whole new way of testing, the Department of Transportation should really focus on proper test conduction. (Though this could be helpful for individuals with “shy bladder” problems.)

What are your thoughts? Do you think oral fluid testing is right for individual truckers?

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