Peter DeFazio, ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, released a report on Thursday, Feb. 8 that claims there are gaps in the Department of Transportation’s drug and alcohol testing program.
In August 2017, DeFazio directed Committee Democratic staff to evaluate the DOT’s drug and alcohol testing program and implementation of federal regulations across each of the modes of transportation.
“Staff found that while DOT is effectively carrying out drug and alcohol requirements, there are significant gaps that should be addressed to mitigate risk and improve transportation safety,” the Oregon Democrat said in a news release. “I urge the (DOT) to consider the findings and recommendation made in the report, to ensure the safety of our roads, rails, pipelines, navigable waters and skies.”
Among the report’s findings:
- Since 2000, the National Transportation Safety Board has investigated 381 fatal accidents involving drugs or alcohol.
- Information regarding drug and alcohol positive rates among transportation workers is not readily available to the public.
- DOT drug and alcohol regulations do not cover all employees performing safety-sensitive functions, such as employees of foreign aircraft repair stations.
- DOT drug testing is limited to certain categories of drugs.
- The legalization of marijuana in a number of states means more focus needs to be placed on the potential transportation safety impacts of marijuana use as it becomes more prevalent in the United States.
- Post-accident testing limits DOT’s ability to obtain more accurate and complete data on individual accidents.
- Some entities are exempt from reporting drug and alcohol violations to DOT, limiting the department’s ability to evaluate drug and alcohol use among transportation workers.
- Health and Human Services needs to develop scientifically-based standards for alternate testing methods, such as hair and oral fluid testing.
- Gaps exist in training and resources provided to employers and employees. For example, only one carrier reported providing recurrent training for rank-and-file workers.
The report gives 15 recommendations, including that DOT should revise its regulations to ensure alcohol and controlled substances testing programs encompass all employees and agents performing safety-sensitive functions.
DeFazio sent the 36-page report to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Paul Zukunft.
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