September 14, 2009

Truck driver alcohol testing effective

Mandatory alcohol testing programs for truck and bus drivers have been a factor in reducing alcohol involvement in fatal crashes, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Guohua Li, professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and colleagues at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said there are approximately 4,000 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks and buses each year and about 3 percent of the motor carrier drivers and 27 percent of non-motor-carrier drivers in these fatal crashes are under the influence of alcohol.

The study involved 70,000 motor carrier -- heavy trucks and buses -- drivers and more than 83,000 non-motor-carrier (car) drivers.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, estimated the net effect attributed to the mandatory alcohol testing programs for drivers of heavy trucks and buses was a 23 percent reduced risk of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes.

The mandatory alcohol testing programs for transportation employees with safety-sensitive functions are a major policy intervention, Li says in a statement.