WASHINGTON — The commercial trucking industry would have more options available for pre-employment drug screenings under legislation two Arkansas lawmakers introduced Thursday in Congress.

WASHINGTON — The commercial trucking industry would have more options available for pre-employment drug screenings under legislation two Arkansas lawmakers introduced Thursday in Congress.


Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, filed bills in the Senate and House that would allow trucking companies to opt out of Department of Transportation required urinalysis testing if they use hair tests instead.


"My bill’s only concern is improving the safety of our roads," Crawford said. "Some drug users, when they know that a drug test is likely, are able to abstain for just a few days before the test and beat the system. This bill would catch a much larger percentage of those drivers and keep them off the roads."


Many commercial trucking companies are already using hair tests because they find it is more effective in screening potential hires for drug or alcohol abuse. But because of federal regulations, those testing hair still have to conduct urinalysis tests. The bill would simply allow those companies to drop the duplicative process.


J.B. Hunt Transport, based in Lowell, has been testing hair and urine samples for nearly a decade. Between May 2006 and December 2014, the company had 110 driver applicants fail the urine test while 3,845 people had drug-positive hair test results. Schneider National, based in Green Bay, Wis., found similar results. Between March 2008 and June 2012, they had 120 prospective drivers fail the urine test while 1,400 applicants had drug-positive hair test results.


"Preventing drug users from operating commercial trucks will improve safety on our roads and enhance industry standards," Boozman said. "This legislation eliminates the duplicative drug-testing process and allows trucking companies to use the more effective option, without having to pay for two tests."


Boozman introduced his bill with Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. Crawford introduced a companion bill in the House with Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, French Hill, R-Little Rock, Sean Duffy, R-Wis., Reid Ribble, R-Wis., Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat.