Drugs found at site of Massachusetts van crash

A Massachusetts van crash this week that left 12 adults with special needs injured uncovers a potentially even bigger problem with state regulations after it was admitted that out-of-state driving records for potential contract drivers are not checked.

The 51-year-old driver involved in Monday’s accident in Newton, Massachusetts, has a long history of traffic violations in New York, including drug possession, the Boston Globe reported. But the driver was approved by the state office of Health and Human Services anyway, because only his Massachusetts driving record was looked at.

The accident occurred at about 9 a.m. on Monday, when the driver is accused of crashing the van into a parked garbage truck in Newton. The accident occurred only about a mile from the Price Center, where the passengers were supposed to be dropped off 40 minutes earlier.

The driver reportedly told police officers that he had taken two oxycodone pills four hours before the crash, but investigators said they also uncovered a broken crack pipe and what is believed to be crack-cocaine from a bag in the van.

In Massachusetts, all drivers who are contracted to provide transportation to service providers like the Price Center are required to meet requirements by the Health and Human Service office and go through a Criminal Offender Record Information check and a review of driving records.

However, the chief operations officer for the transit company that hired the contract driver said that only state driving records are taken into account. Had the driver’s records from New York been considered, he would not have been eligible to provide services under the state requirements.

The communications director for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services told the Boston Globe that her office is “conducting a thorough review of the transportation provider’s actions and performance, as well as the hiring practices related to this specific driver, in order to determine whether any action is necessary.”

Three passengers in the van were hospitalized following the accident, and two remained in intensive care last night as of yesterday. The remaining passengers were all treated and released, police told the Boston Globe.

Accidents like this are often the cause of personal injury lawsuits. When service providers supply transportation to clients, they have a duty to provide the clients with safe drivers. The state may also hold some liability here as well for failing to consider out-of-state driving records.

Source: Boston Globe, “Van crash highlights history of violations,” Ben Wolford, Aug. 3, 2011.