A new report claims that Amtrak has been dangerously negligent when it comes to employees testing positive for drugs and alcohol. The report is an internal audit by Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General and it takes Amtrak to task for overlooking a steady rise in in positive drug tests, especially for cocaine and marijuana (the majority of failed drug tests were because of those drugs).
Drug and alcohol testing was made mandatory in the railroad industry in 1987 after an Amtrak train collided with a freight train in Chase, Maryland because an engineer on the freight train ran three signals while under the influence of marijuana. That collision resulted in the deaths of 16 people.
Amtrak’s employees have failed drug and alcohol tests at a rate 51 percent higher than the railroad industry average and have been rising unabated since 2006. The report accuses Amtrak officials of ignoring the issue, even though they spent an estimated $1.5 million on tests in 2012.
It’s a waste of money and people operating giant metal tubes flinging down the road, going 100s of miles per hours shouldn’t be on drugs or alcohol, but the testing seems to be pointless and invasive. Just because people test positive for marijuana doesn’t mean they’re doing their job high. It seems like they were borne out of an overreaction of bad policy to a terrible tragedy years ago and instead of pointing the fingers at Amtrak officials, rethink the entire policy. Also, Amtrak conductors could maybe use a little cocaine. Might get me to my destination a little faster. Never thought about that one, did you, Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General?