Drug and Alcohol Testing Under Revaluation

Following a fatal 2016 Amtrak accident in Chester, Pennsylvania, and a series of news articles about the increase in drug use across the United States and in the transportation sector, Democratic staff of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, began a review of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s drug and alcohol testing program to evaluate patterns of increased usage across the modes of transportation and to determine whether DOT’s program is effective or in need of improvement. A report was prepared for House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member Peter DeFazio (D-OR).

T&I Committee Democratic staff found that while DOT is effectively carrying out drug and alcohol testing requirements, policies, and goals, there are significant gaps in its drug and alcohol testing program. Based on this review, T&I Committee Democratic staff developed 15 recommendations for improving the program, along with ten key findings.

Recommendations include:

DOT should revise its regulations to ensure alcohol and controlled
substances testing programs encompass all employees and agents performing safety-sensitive functions, addressing any gaps that currently exist in employees and agents who are tested.

PHMSA should renew discussions with Canada and Mexico to ensure
pipeline companies that operate pipelines from Canada or Mexico into the United States are able to conduct the same drug and alcohol tests on safety-sensitive personnel located outside of the United States that are required of personnel in the United States.

DOT and HHS should prioritize research that could lead to a scientifically
valid and legally defensible testing standard for marijuana impairment.

DOT should routinely review exemptions from reporting requirements for
drug and alcohol testing, and consider conducting a review that compares the results of DOT- mandated tests with the results of tests conducted under company authority to help better inform regulators of drug and alcohol abuse among transportation workers.

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