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NTSB: It’s time for broader drug tests on truck drivers

The rules and regulations that truck drivers are required to follow in order to have a license to ply their trade on the roads of Louisiana and the rest of the country are significant. Included among them is testing for a variety of drugs. But are they enough?

The National Transportation Safety Board doesn’t think so and stated as much last month in reporting on what likely caused a tragic 2014 crash between a semitrailer truck and a bus carrying a Texas softball team home from a road trip. Four of the female players on that team died in the crash. A number of other victims suffered an array of injuries.

As a result of this truck-bus crash, authorities in Oklahoma have filed four counts of first-degree manslaughter against the trucker in the case. That may bring a sense of justice to some, but it seems fair to question whether the victims, including surviving loved ones of those who died will feel that way.

According to the NTSB report on the crash, the driver of the truck lost control of his vehicle and crossed over a broad expanse of median before colliding with the bus in the opposing lane of the freeway. The board says the driver became incapacitated, likely due to the smoking of synthetic cannabinoids. The driver denies the claim and it hasn’t been supported by results of drug tests that were taken after the crash.

But that is apparently one of the reasons why the NTSB issued its call for broader drug testing. Under current federal guidelines, testing can be done for the presence of a variety of drugs, but synthetic cannabinoids is not one of them. And so the NTSB is calling for the testing to be expanded.

In addition, the NTSB renewed its call for all states to pass laws to require seat belt use in all vehicles. The bus in this case had seat belts and the school has a policy requiring that they be used, but the NTSB says it wasn’t enforced.

Source: NBCDFW.com, “ Softball Team Bus Likely High: Feds,” accessed Dec. 3, 2015

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