Can Big Rig Drivers Beat Drug Tests?
By Robert ArnoldPOSTED: 10:03 am CST December 20, 2007UPDATED: 12:46 pm CSTDecember 22, 2007HOUSTON --
Local 2 investigates potentially dangerous loopholes in federal drug testing laws. Our hidden cameras expose a flawed system that can allow drug addicts to get behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler or even a school bus.
Local 2 investigative reporter Robert Arnold shows us how what we uncovered now has Congress and the industry demanding change.
We sent our hidden cameras to a Houston drug testing facility where we signed up to take an official Department of Transportation drug test.
Federal law requires every driver to get a drug test before they're allowed to drive an 18-wheeler, a school bus or any kind of commercial vehicle.But before Local 2 went for the test, we were able to order drug-free urine off the Internet.The kit Local 2 purchased came with a tube of dehydrated urine, a vial and a small heater. We mixed the powdered urine with water then used the heater to bring the sample up to the temperature of the human body.At the collection facility, Arnold was ordered to take off his sport coat and place the contents of his pockets in a secure locker.
That was the extent of the search, which meant no one at the facility knew Arnold had the vial of mail-order urine hidden as he entered the bathroom.Once inside the bathroom, Arnold was allowed to close and lock the door, which allowed him to use the vial of mail-order urine as his sample for the drug test.Arnold was then sent to a bathroom to provide a urine specimen for drug test.A few days later the results of Arnold's drug test came back negative. The mail-order urine passed with no problems at all.
The facility Local 2 tested did absolutely nothing wrong. Employees followed every procedure they are required to follow when collecting a specimen for a Department of Transportation drug test. Yet, Local 2 still found it easy to beat the test.
"Your investigation shows how easy it is to circumvent the law," said U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, who sits on Congress' Transportation Committee."Those regulations were written based on the premise that the person giving the sample was going to be honest about it," said Poe. "That's not the world we live in."
Poe said what concerns him is if Arnold had been a drug user, then that negative test would still allow him to drive an 18-wheeler, a school bus or any kind of commercial vehicle."When it's so easy to circumvent the law, the law becomes meaningless," said Poe."Whatever needs to be done to tighten the regulations to ensure that we don't have anyone slip through the cracks like you did, then I think that needs to be addressed," said Van O'Neal, the head of Houston Community College's truck driving school.O'Neal's program is one of the largest in the country and requires 50 percent of students and faculty to undergo random drug tests. He says that's why Congress has to tighten the regulations."Those policies must be followed, not need to be followed, but I believe must be followed to ensure that our roadways are safe," O'Neal said.Congress is promising to come up with tougher regulations because what Local 2 did was not an isolated case. A report from the Government Accountability Office shows federal investigators also circumvented drug testing laws at several facilities. The report even warns Congress it impossible to determine how many drivers have been able to beat the federally required drug test.Federal law also requires trucking companies to randomly test employees to hopefully catch those who may have beat the test the first time. But after Local 2 Investigates combed through tens of thousands of federal violations, we found not everyone is following the law.