The number of transit drivers (including bus drivers, pilots, train operators, and pipeline workers) who failed federally mandated drug tests has increased by over 75 percent since 2006. Much of these numbers can be attributed to the national opioid crisis. Because transportation workers are responsible for the safety of the many passengers that they carry, as well as the public in general, this new federal data is extremely disconcerting.
As a result of this shocking rise in failed drug tests, House Democrats have issued a report making 15 recommendations to transit agencies to increase safety regulations.
Democratic staff members on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee gathered this data from the United States Transportation Department. The staff members were following up on various reports from 2016 about drug abuse among railroad workers.
There have been a large number of high profile transportation accidents in recent years, wherein intoxication of a transit operator has been a contributing factor. In 2014, a commercial trucker high on synthetic cannabinoid struck a school bus. In Tennessee in 2014, a truck driver high on amphetamines struck eight cars, killing six people. Further, an Amtrak operator outside of Philadelphia who was under the influence of marijuana killed two crew members working on the railbed—who were also found to have been intoxicated.
A recent nationwide study found that nearly 11 million Americans misused opioids in 2016. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that during that same year, a record 42,000 deaths could be attributed to opioid abuse.
Transportation Drivers and Opioid Abuse
With the rise of opioid abuse among the general public, it should come as no surprise that there is a corresponding rise in abuse among transportation drivers. The Democratic staff members’ study concluded that:
- .6 percent of aviation workers failed drug tests
- .8 percent of bus and truck drivers failed drug tests
- .4 percent of railroad workers failed drug tests
- 10 percent of transit workers failed drug tests
- .9 percent of U.S. Coast Guard licensed operators failed drug tests
- 1 percent of pipeline workers failed drug tests
High-ranking Democrats have gone on the record to state that the Department of Transportation (DOT) is effectively carrying out drug and alcohol testing requirements, but there are still changes to be made. The Committee recommendations include suggesting that trucking companies should test at least one fourth of their workforce annually. They also suggest that when investigating crashes, blood tests should be taken in addition to urine sampling. Furthermore, they suggest that a scientifically sound and legally defensible means to test for cannabis impairment be developed.
Contact a Columbia Truck Accident Lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Today
When a commercial truck, train, or other large transportation vehicle is involved in an accident, the results are often catastrophic. If you or someone you love has been injured, the experienced Columbia truck accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. are prepared to fight for you. We advocate for victims of train accidents and other transportation accidents throughout South Carolina. Call us today at 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
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