The letter was co-signed by prominent groups such as the Teamsters union, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Transport Workers Union, United Steelworkers and others.
“Instead of allowing the experts at HHS to determine whether scientific and forensic evidence supports the use of hair specimen testing, these legislative proposals arbitrarily grant motor carriers the ability to use this unsubstantiated method of testing,” the groups stated in the letter.
The letter called into question hair testing, citing instances where hair specimens can deliver false positives for individuals who had only been exposed to illegal substances but never actually ingested. It also brought up the possibility of carriers being labeled “less safe” for using urine testing instead of hair testing.
“The process Congress established years ago has created drug testing standards that are not only effective, but scientifically and forensically sound,” the groups stated. “Any changes to these standards must be backed by similar evidential support carefully studied by the experts with such authority.”
Proponents of hair testing contend that hair urinalysis is less effective at detecting substance abuse because evidence of use has a longer window of detection in hair and it's harder to cheat on the test. The American Truck Associations and the group The Trucking Alliance both backed hair testing in March of this year.
"ATA is committed to improving highway safety, including doing all we can to prevent individuals who use drugs or alcohol from driving trucks," said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves. "ATA's advocacy [of mandatory drug and alcohol testing] has resulted in a steady decline in the small percentage of drivers who use drugs, and hair testing is the next logical step."
However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is on record as criticizing the measure, saying the current urine-based standards are working fine and there's no reason to pursue hair testing as an alternative.
The groups that signed the letter were: