WASHINGTON — The head of the National Transportation Safety Board today chastised the Transportation Department for not moving more quickly to impose regulations prohibiting the use of alcohol or drugs by freight and passenger train engineers.
NTSB Chairman Jim Burnett said he found it "incredible" that, as far as federal laws are concerned, an engineer "can consume a bottle of whiskey while at the controls."
Seven people were killed last summer in two train crashes in Colorado and Wyoming--both involving alcohol or drugs. Both accidents involved the Burlington Northern Railroad and came within a 10-day period.
Partly in response to those accidents, the Federal Railroad Administration proposed a broad-ranging and controversial regulation last June that would prohibit the use of alcohol and drugs by engineers and give railroads more leeway to check for alcohol and drug abuse among their workers.