Companion legislation was filed today in the U.S. House and Senate that would recognize hair-sampling as an optional method for drug-testing truckers.

The respective measures are largely the work of the Arkansas delegation to Capitol Hill. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) along with Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) introduced the bills. Joining Crawford in the House as co-sponsors  were Reps. Tom Cotton (R-AR),  Steve Womack (R-AR), Tim Griffin (R-AR) and Reid Ribble (R-WI).

The Drug Free Commercial Trucking Act of 2013 would instruct the Dept. “to recognize hair-testing as alternative option to give companies greater flexibility when conducting drug and alcohol testing,” per a statement issued by Sen. Pryor’s office.

The bills seek to rectify the current “double-testing” predicament truck fleets find themselves in when it comes to driver drug tests.

Pryor’s office explained that now “urinalysis is the only accepted method of drug and alcohol testing. Unfortunately, urinalysis is often less effective in detecting substance abuse, with only a 2-3 day window of detection, than hair- testing, which provides a 60-90 day window.”

The Senator’s statement noted as an example that, from March 2008 to June 2012, “Schneider National’s pre-employment drug-testing data found 120 prospective drivers failed the urine test, while 1,400 applicants had drug-positive hair-test results. This discrepancy is causing many trucking companies to take on additional costs by paying for both methods of testing.”

“ATA has been a long-time vocal supporter of strengthening the drug and alcohol testing procedures in our industry,” said Bill Graves, president & CEO of the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) in support of the twin measures.

“Allowing fleets to use hair-testing, which research and experience shows can be much more effective than the current, conventional sampling and testing methods at identifying lifestyle drug users, is the next logical step in this process,” he continued. “Accordingly, we're grateful to see Congress once again raise the issue."