Earlier this year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration advised the industry that a proposal, which would acknowledge hair testing as an acceptable form for a carrier to drug test its employees, would likely be released by year’s end or early 2018. But given that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was required to issue guidelines for hair testing by Dec. 4th, 2016 (a year after the FAST Act highway bill was passed), U.S. senators sent a letter last week to HHS asking to speed up the process.1 Until this is done, only the conduction of a urinalysis is recognized as a proper form of drug screening. The problem with this method is that a urinalysis only uncovers traces in the system within the past two or three days. Therefore, many carriers also require their employees to undergo hair testing as well, which provides detection as far back as 60-90 days, preventing employees that know they will be tested, the ability to refrain from usage a few days prior to the test to receive a negative result.2 The American Trucking Associations continues to back hair testing as a proper way to drug test.
Electronic Logging Devices:
Carriers have until Dec. 18th to comply with the mandatory electronic logging device ruling, which would replace paper logs to track hours-of-service, prevent fatigue, save over $1 million in revenue, and increase efficiency during inspections. According to TransRisk’s Craig Fuller, the implementation can cause carriers to lose between 2-8% capacity, especially among smaller carriers, as they comply with hours-of-service regulations. 3 This capacity crunch is sure to increase rates, however, Fuller does not see the rate impact to take place until March 2018 due to the delay in enforcement depending on the state. 3
The Medical Review Board and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee have recommended that carriers require drivers who have a body mass index of 35 or greater to be tested for sleep apnea and for it to be treated before they can drive as it may affect their ability to safely do so. 4 Many drivers, however, are against such a proposal, finding it intrusive. So was the case in April when a driver claimed that the trucking company he worked for had fired him after he refused to take a sleep apnea test because of his BMI. 4 The case, however, was dismissed. The Owner-Operator Independent Association states that there is no link between crashes and sleep apnea and therefore, there shouldn’t be a mandate for testing based on BMI. 4
Entry-level Driver Training:
An entry-level driver training rule set to originally go into effect Feb. 6th was delayed for the third time with a new effective date of June 5th. 5The ruling would require drivers to have a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training, set a core curriculum that new drivers must learn, as well as establish a “minimum level of qualification for instructors, tests, vehicles, and more.” 6
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