Unsafe cargo

A needed move has been made to try to end the public-safety problem posed by train crewmen who work under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The Department of Transportation has proposed regulations to prevent drinking or drug use on the job; they are also aimed at keeping impaired employees from operating trains. The proposal has general but not unqualified support from railroad management and labor; it is expected to take effect in September after the government has held several days of hearings on it.

The rules should be made permanent in September. They are required to decrease the too-frequent incidents in recent years of train accidents caused in part by crew members' use of alcohol or drugs.

Rigorous enforcement will likely be the key to the regulations' success. The concept of preventing drunken crewmen from operating trains is not new: Railroads have had regulations for years that prohibit the use of alcohol by crews. Yet the problem not only has persisted but appears to have become more serious in recent years.

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