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Transportation Employee Drug Testing



This annual report presents the results of mandatory drug and alcohol testing conducted by transit systems and their contractors who receive funds from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Under the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act passed by Congress in 1991, the FTA was required to establish regulations for drug and alcohol testing of transit employees performing safety-sensitive functions. These regulations require that each recipient of FTA funds: (1) implement an anti-drug program to deter and detect the use of prohibited drugs, (2) establish a program to prevent the misuse of alcohol, and (3) report the results of its programs to FTA annually. The 2000 Annual Report is the sixth annual report summarizing the reported results of drug and alcohol tests from all such transit systems.

Compliance with FTA’s drug and alcohol testing program is a condition of federal assistance. Failure of a recipient to establish and implement a drug and alcohol testing program - either in its own operations or in those of an entity operating on its behalf - may result in the suspension of federal transit funding to the recipient. Because a recipient may not always directly provide mass transit services, the FTA uses the term “operator” or “employer” to describe those who actually provide transit services. The direct recipient of FTA funds, however, is the entity legally responsible to the FTA for compliance.


The FTA received drug and alcohol MIS reporting forms for calendar year 2000 from 2,657 individual employers representing 1,700 transit systems and 957contractors. Of the individual employers, 869 were large operators, 372 were small operators, and 1,416 were rural operators. A total of 1,657 of all employers reported being a member of a consortium. Approximately 74 percent of all employers reported no positive drug test results, and 97 percent of employers reported no alcohol test results ³ 0.04 percent. The number of contractors who had at least one positive drug test result was 33.8 percent, compared to 21.6 percent of transit systems. The number of contractors who submitted forms with at least one alcohol test result > 0.04 percent was 3.2 percent, compared to 21.6 percent of transit systems.

Employers reported a total of 249,733 employees performing safety-sensitive functions: 78.5 percent of these employees are employed at transit systems and 21.5 percent are employed by contractors. The average transit system employs more than twice as many safety-sensitive employees than the average contractor, 115 to 56. Large operators employ an average of 226 safety-sensitive employees compared to 52 for small operators and 26.4 for rural. The largest number of employees performing safety-sensitive functions are engaged in revenue vehicle operation (70 percent) followed by revenue vehicle and equipment maintenance (18.9 percent). Revenue vehicle control/dispatch, CDL/non-revenue vehicle employees, and armed security personnel combined make-up less 11.0 percent of the overall labor force (7.6 percent, 1.9 percent, and 1.5 percent respectively).

The largest number of contract employees were involved in revenue vehicle operation at 77.2 percent, followed by revenue vehicle and equipment maintenance at 12.9 percent. For rural operators, contractors comprise a relatively small percent of the total number of FTA-covered employees at 19.9 percent; for large operators, contractors comprise a slightly higher total at 20.8 percent. Contractors comprise 31.9 percent of the total number of FTA-covered employees for small contractors.


Electronically reporting Drug and Alcohol MIS results became an option for FTA-covered employers in 1998. Electronic software was developed with help and validation capabilities in an effort to lessen the reporting burden. In 2000, 707 employers (27 percent) reported electronically in 2000, versus 568 (22 percent) in 1999.


The 2000 drug-testing program performed by large, small, and rural FTA-covered employers revealed the following major findings:

    A total of 121,668 specimens were collected for random drug testing: 1,151 of these specimens tested positive for one or more of the five prohibited drugs. Random drug testing accounted for 0.54 percent of the total specimens collected and .32 percent of the total positive specimens.

    The positive random test rate was 1.05 percent industry-wide. Positive test rates were 0.85 percent for transit systems, and 1.85 percent for contractors.

    A total of 226,679 specimens were collected for all six types of drug testing. Of that figure, 3,583 specimens tested positive for one or more of the five prohibited drugs. Transit systems accounted for 72 percent of all drug tests conducted, with contractors accounting for the remaining 28 percent of the total drug tests. The overall percentage (transit systems and contractors combined) of positive drug tests was 1.59 percent.

    Of the six drug test types (pre-employment, random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, return-to-duty, and follow-up), the highest percent of positive specimens was for reasonable suspicion testing (5.5 percent). Contractors reported positive results at a higher rate than did transit systems in all test types. The lowest percentage of positive specimens was for random testing (0.95 percent).

    Marijuana and cocaine were detected most frequently in the specimens that tested positive for drugs. Of 1,151 random positive specimens, 60.08 percent tested positive for marijuana and 35.56 percent tested positive for cocaine. Marijuana was also detected most frequently in all 10 regions. Forty-five specimens tested positive for multiple drugs; the most common multiple-drug combination was marijuana and cocaine, with 20 positive results.

    There were 240 qualifying accidents that resulted in a positive post-accident drug test (126 from transit systems and 114 from contractors). There was one fatality resulting from these accidents. Marijuana was detected in 50 percent of all positive post-accident drug tests; cocaine was second at 43.3 percent.


Employers are required to establish and conduct an alcohol misuse prevention program in which employees performing safety-sensitive functions are tested for the misuse of alcohol and supervisors are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcohol misuse. Employees are subject to five types of alcohol tests: random, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, return-to-duty, and follow-up. In addition, employers may not allow safety sensitive employees to consume alcohol under four specific circumstances: (1) 4 hours before performing a safety sensitive function; (2) while performing a safety sensitive function; (3) after a fatal accident, unless the employee has received a post-accident test or 8 hours have elapsed, whichever occurs first; or (4) after a non-fatal accident unless the employee's involvement was completely discounted as a contributing factor to the accident, the employee has been tested, or 8 hours have elapsed.

An employee with an alcohol concentration of 0.02 or greater, but less than 0.04, must be removed from duty for 8 hours or until a retest shows an alcohol concentration of less than 0.02. An employee with an alcohol concentration 0.04 must be prohibited from performing any safety-sensitive duties, removed from his/her safety sensitive position, and be evaluated by a substance abuse professional. If the employer has a second-chance policy, the employee must properly complete a course of treatment prescribed by the substance abuse professional, and pass a return-to-duty alcohol test prior to returning to a safety-sensitive position.

The 2000 alcohol-testing program performed by large, small, and rural transit employers revealed the following:

    Of the total 41,002 random alcohol-screening tests conducted, 42 confirmation test results that were ³ 0.04 were documented (0.10 percent). The percentage of random positive results for transit systems was 0.10 percent, while the percentage of random positive results for contractors was 0.12 percent.

    The FTA alcohol-testing rule includes a definition for the violation rate. The violation rate means the sum of the annual number of results from random alcohol tests conducted that have alcohol concentrations of 0.04 or greater, plus the annual number of refusals to submit to alcohol tests, divided by the sum of the annual number of random alcohol tests, plus the annual number of refusals to submit to a drug test. The violation rate for 2000 for all employers (transit systems and contractors) was 0.15 percent.

    The percent of total alcohol screening results that were 0.04 for all test types was 0.20 percent industry-wide. The percent for transit systems was 0.18 percent, versus 0.28 percent for contractors.

    Transit systems conducted 80 percent of the 69,005 total screening tests; contractors conducted 20 percent of the total.

    Of the 5 required alcohol test types, the highest percent of test results that were 0.04 was for reasonable suspicion testing at 7.77 percent. Contractors had nearly double the number of alcohol concentrations at 0.04 for reasonable suspicion testing than transit systems at 12.02 percent.

    Of the 5 employee categories, the highest percent of test results that were 0.04 was tied between revenue vehicle control dispatch and CDL/non-revenue vehicle at 0.26 percent. Armed Security Personnel had zero test results 0.04. There were 6 accidents reported that resulted in a post-accident alcohol test result of 0.04 or greater. There were no fatalities resulting from these accidents. Transit systems accounted for all 6 of the post-accident test results 0.04.

    There were 51 alcohol test refusals: 25 for transit systems and 26 for contractors. Twenty-one refusals were for random tests and 30 were for non-random tests.

    There were 26 reported “other” alcohol violations — 3 of the 4 additional specific circumstances in which employers may not allow their safety sensitive employees to consume alcohol, as mentioned previously.


The number of FTA drug and alcohol reporting forms received between 1996 and 2000 increased by 16.18 percent. The greatest gain has been in the number of contractor reports received: reports received from contractors have jumped by 35.40 percent while transit systems have increased by 7.06 percent.

From 1996 to 2000, the number of reported safety-sensitive employees has increased by 12.46 percent for transit systems, and 36.43 percent for contractors. The percent of contracted FTA-covered employees out of the total pool (i.e., including transit systems), increased from 18.44 percent in 1996 to 25.16 percent in 2000.

Overall, the percent of positive random drug test results and the percent of random alcohol test results 0.04 decreased each year for the 5-year period

This information came from an
US DOT online article.

*** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

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