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Mandatory alcohol testing for truck and bus drivers reduces alcohol involvement in fatal crashes
Date:9/11/2009

September 10, 2009 Mandatory alcohol testing programs for truck and bus drivers have contributed to a significant reduction in alcohol involvement in fatal crashes, according to a new study by researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Based on a study sample of nearly 70,000 motor carrier (heavy trucks and buses) drivers and over 83,000 nonmotor-carrier (car) drivers, the estimated net effect attributed to the mandatory alcohol testing programs for drivers of heavy trucks and buses was a 23% reduced risk of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes. This is the first study to comprehensively evaluate the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991, which made alcohol testing mandatory for transportation employees with safety sensitive functions. Findings from the study are published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

In the U.S., there are approximately 4,000 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks and buses each year, and nearly 80% of these fatal crashes are collisions between a motor carrier and a passenger car. About 3% of the motor carrier drivers and 27% of non-motor-carrier drivers in these fatal crashes are under the influence of alcohol.

"The mandatory alcohol testing programs for transportation employees with safety-sensitive functions are a major policy intervention," says Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and professor of Anesthesiological Sciences at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and senior author. "However, this policy remains a controversial one, because of legal and ethical concerns and little empirical data about its safety benefit. Our study provides compelling evidence that implementation of the mandatory alcohol testing programs has significantly reduced alcohol involvement in fatal motor carrier crashes."

The authors also report that the estimated safety ben
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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