GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - A locally-based trucking company is calling on the federal government to make a change in the way commercial truck drivers can be drug tested.
Nearly 10,000 orange Schneider National trucks take to the highways every day. Now company leaders are more confident the drivers they hire are drug-free. For the past four years, the trucking company has been taking hair, as well as urine samples from job applicants. Schneider's Senior Vice President of Safety and Security, Don Osterberg, said it costs the company an $1million a year, but it's worth it.
"Since the start of our program, we've had over 1,400 perspective drivers test positive on the hair," Osterberg explained. "Just over 100 of those were also positive on the urine test."
Dr. Pierce Sherrill, an occupational medical physician with Aurora BayCare uses both types of testing methods. He said both tests are accurate, however a urine test only detects drugs taken within a few days.
"The hair is constantly growing, and when you use a drug, a small amount of that is actually incorporated into the hair," Dr. Sherrill explained. "It will grow out and as much hair as you've got is your history of drug use for usually a matter of weeks to months."
"The good news is," said Osterberg. "There's about 1,300 chronic drug users that are not driving orange trucks today. Tthe unfortunate reality is they are probably driving truck for a carrier that doesn't do hair testing."
He said the problem is the U.S. Department of Transportation only accepts urine drug tests. That's why leaders with Schneider National are pushing for a change in policy. They want the federal government to allow names of drivers who fail hair-sample tests to be put in a national database that right now only recognizes those who've failed a urine test. Osterberg said that will help keep other trucking companies from putting potentially dangerous drivers out on the roads.
"If they recognize how robust and reliable hair testing is, I think we'll begin to see a faster proliferation of hair testing into the industry," he added.
Osterberg said it could take quite some time for the government to change its policy.