Preventing Opioid and Drug Impairment in Transportation Act (S 2979, 116th Congress)

Policy Details

Policy Details

Originating Entity
Last Action
Passed by Committee
Date of Last Action
Dec 11 2019
Congressional Session
116th Congress
Date Introduced
Dec 4 2019
Publication Date
Jan 17 2020

SciPol Summary

The Preventing Opioid and Drug Impairment in Transportation Act (S 2979) would permit the Department of Transportation (DoT) to conduct studies and review current regulations regarding alcohol and drug use by engineers and conductors working in transportation-related positions, including transportation by railroad, pipeline, or highway.

Studies and reporting conducted by the DoT include:

  • Identifying international pipelines (from Canada and Mexico) and determining whether their safety procedures are sufficient;
  • Investigating and improving interstate auditing procedures;
  • Detecting and reporting to Congress ways to better identify impaired driving; and
  • Examining the reliability and accuracy of roadside tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and opiate screening, and reporting to Congress the extent of the problem and how to better test for drugs.

Based on the results of their studies, the DoT would determine if the current regulations need revising. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would review the DoT’s methods for determining drug testing requirements and setting guidelines. The GAO would then submit a report to Congress describing and assessing methods of adding or removing categories of drugs from the testing requirements. The Department of Health and Human Services would report to Congress on whether to add fentanyl, an opioid more potent than morphine, and would explain why the implementation of hair testing guidelines, which was requested by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2015, has been delayed. Hair testing can be used to detect chronic alcohol and drug use weeks after last consumption.

Additionally, the bill would require Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, to report to Congress their methods for ensuring supervisors of safety-sensitive positions are trained to detect drug and alcohol use in their supervisees and improving employee’s compliance with self-reporting of prescription drug use. Lastly, Amtrak would have to establish an electronic database with records of personnel testing for drug use.

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