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Regulators aim to reduce train accidents through drug tests

Trains are massive vehicles that take trained professionals to operate. Moreover, it takes a good deal of skill and knowledge to maintain rail lines. Engineers and railroad workers in Minnesota are often pushed to make sure that trains arrive at their destination on time if not earlier. This can cause some workers to engage in risky behaviors such as using drugs while on the job. According to one source, almost eight percent of employees involved in railroad accidents in 2016 had various illicit substances in their system, such as morphine, OxyContin, cocaine and marijuana, among others.

Federal regulators are dealing with the issue of drug use by railroad employees. Currently, drug testing will be required, starting in June 2017, for the approximately 36,000 railroad workers in our nation. The railroad industry has asked federal regulators to postpone these measures by one year, but federal regulators have not granted this request.

According to the head of the Federal Railroad Administration, track workers, just like other railroad workers, should be tested for illicit substances. The purpose of such testing is to keep others from being injured or killed in train accidents, and any delay would not serve this purpose.

At first, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) added its signature to the proffered petition. Freight railroads are represented by the AAR. It later withdrew its objection to testing, as freight railroads currently have implemented testing programs for illicit substances. The AAR now supports the new rule and believes it will be prepared to abide by the new regulation by the 2017 deadline.

As this shows, federal regulators are making efforts to make our nation’s railways safer. Ensuring railroad workers are not using drugs is an important step in achieving this goal. However, if a person in Minnesota is injured in a train accident, he or she may want to learn more about his or her legal options, so that the right parties can be held responsible.

Source: The Washington Post, “Federal regulators reject railroads’ request to delay new drug-testing rule,” Ashley Halsey III, Nov. 10, 2016