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DOT's Alcohol Testing Proposals Criticized at Public Hearing


April 1993

Alcohol poses a significantly greater safety threat in the transportation industry than illicit drugs, a number of speakers told federal Department of Transportation (DOT) officials at a March 4 public hearing in San Francisco (No Byline, "Transportation: Alcohol Poses Greater Safety Threat Than Illegal Drugs, Speakers Testify," The National Report on Substance Abuse, 3/12/93, p. 5).

Pacific Gas and Electric medical review officer David Smith, M.D., told DOT officials that alcohol was clearly "our number one problem in industry and society." Smith urged officials to support comprehensive drug and alcohol testing, noting that by focusing on illicit drugs, company policies may encourage individuals to switch from illicit drug use to alcohol abuse.

David Howe, president of an on-site urine testing firm, pointed out that simultaneous testing for drugs and alcohol is more cost-efficient. He urged DOT to drop a proposed 0.02 percent blood alcohol level rule and adopt a 0.04 level as the allowable limit, since it is technologically impossible to accurately measure such very low alcohol blood levels.

DOT officials also heard a plea to drop plans for alcohol testing of airline employees from representatives of management, labor, and employee groups in the airline industry. The representatives said implementation of such testing could cripple the ailing U.S. airline industry.

The National Report on Substance Abuse is a bi-weekly newsletter published by Buraff Publications, 1350 Connecticut Avenue N.W., Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20036, 1-800-333-1291. Price $377