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RTD Test Shows 27 Drivers Used Drugs in October

From United Press International

Nearly 9% of 306 Southern California Rapid Transit District bus drivers screened for drugs in October tested positive for illegal or prescription drugs, officials said Thursday.

As a result of the testing, four drivers either were fired or quit to avoid firing, RTD spokesman Marc Littman said.

Of the 27 drivers who tested positive for drugs, 16 involved illegal drugs, mostly marijuana, and 11 involved such prescription drugs as codeine, Littman said.

Littman said the October findings were up 1% from the previous month but down dramatically from the more than 21% drug usage officials found among bus drivers when they instituted drug testing in September, 1985.

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In October, 5.22% of the tested drivers showed evidence of illegal drugs and 3.6% showed evidence of prescription drugs.

“Basically, we’re very pleased,” Littman said. “It’s down quite a bit.”

The RTD staff is also trying to determine whether the drivers using prescription drugs had approval to do so while operating a bus, he said.

The RTD tests drivers for drugs during routine physical examinations and when they are involved in major accidents or exhibit unusual behavior. Of the drivers who tested positive for drugs in October, Littman said, one had been involved in a bus accident.

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The latest figures do not reflect a toughened drug-testing program adopted two months by the RTD after a rash of widely publicized bus accidents, some of which were linked to drivers under the influence of illegal drugs.

The new testing program, calling for mandatory tests for drivers involved in accidents with injuries, drivers involved in accidents causing $1,000 damage or drivers who are chronically late or absent, is expected to go into effect next month.

RTD officials have said they expect the drug rate to drop significantly.

Thursday, district employees began receiving copies of the new policy. Supervisors have begun receiving instructions in its implementation, RTD General Manager John Dyer said.

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