Five U.S. senators including West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin have called on the Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidelines for conducting drug tests on hair samples. The lawmakers say that the Department of Transportation cannot introduce new drug testing protocols for the nation’s truck drivers until the guidelines are in place. Congress is growing impatient because the DHSS was given one year to finalize hair testing guidelines in December 2015 when President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act into law.
That deadline has now passed, and the senators’ letter, which was sent on May 18, demands swift action. The letter reminds DHSS Secretary Tom Price of the importance of the guidelines and points out that his agency’s foot-dragging is preventing potentially life-saving federal trucking regulations from being implemented. Hair tests are seen as the gold standard of drug testing protocols, and most experts agree that their widespread use would make it easier for employers to identify truck drivers who could pose a danger to themselves and other road users.
Several industry groups support the introduction of hair testing regulations, and the American Trucking Association has released a statement supporting the senators. The group’s president also took the opportunity to criticize the Obama administration for not doing more to ensure that the DHSS met the FAST Act deadline. The National Transportation Safety Board is another federal safety agency that supports hair testing, and seven members of the House of Representatives have petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow several large trucking companies to begin conducting these tests ahead of the DHSS guidelines.
Vehicles traveling at highway speeds and weighing up to 80,000 pounds can cause catastrophic injuries and damage, and accident victims often face months of painful and costly medical treatment and years difficult physical therapy. When the collision was found to have been caused by an impaired truck driver, an attorney can be of assistance when the victims are seeking compensation for their losses.