Railroad Safety:

Reporting Time Frames and Results of Post-Accident Drug Tests

RCED-88-120: Published: Apr 8, 1988. Publicly Released: Apr 14, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) drug and alcohol testing procedures, focusing on: (1) its use of one laboratory to conduct all testing; and (2) the time it required to obtain test results. GAO also obtained information on the results of FRA post-accident drug and alcohol testing in 1987.

GAO found that: (1) FRA used one laboratory for its post-accident testing to ensure standard procedures, control mechanisms, and reporting protocols; (2) the laboratory's location was not a major factor in the time required to obtain results, since it usually received test samples by the second day after the samples were taken; (3) the laboratory's reporting time frame averaged 4.8 working days since October 1987 for initial screening where all crew members involved in a railroad accident tested negative; (4) the laboratory reported its test results within 13 working days for accidents in which at least one crew member tested positive; and (5) FRA records showed at least one positive result in 20.7 percent of the accidents covered by its testing program in 1987.

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