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Illegal drug use suspected factor in many railroad accidents

Last year, a railroad tragedy occurred in another state that prompted safety advocates to pursue changes in railway commercial transportation laws regarding drug tests for employees. That's because three of the railroad employees involved in that particular collision tested positive for marijuana and other controlled substances. Studies show an increased amount of railroad accidents in recent years have included illegal drug use in workers as prominent factors. Those who travel by train in Connecticut may want to pay close attention this issue.

The 2016 collision occurred when a train traveling over 100 miles per hour smashed into a backhoe. The 47-year-old engineer was taken to an area hospital for treatment of his injuries, as were 40 people on board the train at the time. Sadly, however, two Amtrak maintenance workers who were struck by the barreling locomotive did not survive their injuries.

In news that came quite shocking to some, both fatally injured victims, as well as the train engineer, tested positive for drugs in their systems at the time. The engineer apparently had used marijuana, while one of the other workers tested positive for cocaine, and the second fatal victim reportedly had non-prescribed oxycodone in his system at the time of his death. The horrific accident spawned a series of actions in government, with lobbyists for train safety imploring government officials to change the laws regarding drug tests on railroad employees.

A rule is said to have been proposed before the former presidential administration left office that would allow administrators to test for four prescription opioids, one of which is oxycodone. The proposal somehow fizzled, however, and last year's tragedy prompted renewed vigor to call for action among some members of government. Railroad accidents of this magnitude often lead to litigation in Connecticut if a person or group is deemed to have been negligent, thus resulting in injury to others.

Source: The Washington Post, "Amtrak workers killed in crash and train engineer all tested positive for drugs", Ashley Halsey, Oct. 11, 2017

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