Tox Tuesday: Hair drug testing reducing road deaths in Brazil

July 30, 2019

With traffic accidents the eighth largest cause of death in the world, road safety is a top priority for many governments worldwide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately 1.35 million deaths related to crashes every year, with approximately 45,000 of those deaths occurring in Brazil. The South American country makes the top five in the list of nations with the most traffic crashes, and one of the leading causes of these crashes is drivers driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).

One out of three traffic crashes in Brazil is caused by someone under the influence of drugs, according to Marcio Liberbaum, president of Instituto de Tecnologias para o Trânsito Seguro (ITTS). This reckless practice is commonly used by professional drivers to stay alert when driving long hours and to reduce their travel time by cutting sleep.

Statistics have shown that at least 66% of truck drivers use amphetamines while driving. Other statistics have shown that at least 94.4% of truck drivers have been implicated in crashes and 34.9% have improperly used medication while driving.

Individuals can easily obtain drugs without a prescription as some are openly distributed in the form of diet pills, which are in fact very popular in and outside Brazil.

Other substances like cocaine and cannabis are also used with the same purpose by some drivers.

In response to this road safety crisis, the Brazilian government put into effect the Brazilian Federal Law No. 13.103 in March 2016. This law requires Individuals to successfully pass a hair drug test in order to obtain or renew their professional driver’s license.

Six months after the drug testing requirement was put in place, accidents involving trucks decreased 38%. Brazil was also championed by the United Nations back in 2018 for its effort to reduce traffic fatalities and keep roads safe by using hair drug testing technology.

Why hair drug testing over others?

Hair, as a drug testing matrix, offers a 90-day window of detection. Other matrices like blood, urine, and oral fluid offer much shorter detection windows and have a much lower likelihood of catching drug abusers.

The hair drug testing matrix is also less prone to contamination or adulteration, and cheating is almost impossible as testing sessions are conducted under rigid supervision.

Samples for screening are collected very quickly, and are analyzed via multiple methods like ELISA’s, the best scientific and cost-effective method to prescreen hair samples.

With over 100 assays available detectability of over 300 major drug analytes and metabolites, Neogen offers ELISA drug testing kits for all major drugs of abuse. See our website for more information.


Category: Toxicology, Toxicology, Toxicology