In a startling investigation conducted by Oklahoma City CBS affiliate KWTV, reporters found that prescription drug use by pilots may have been a contributing factor in six out of the 15 plane crashes in Oklahoma that occurred between 2008 and 2010. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) this problem is not unique to Oklahoma.
"What we're seeing is just the Oklahoma tip of the iceberg," said Gene Doub, former NTSB investigator, to KWTV.
He went on to say that the issue will get worse as more medications become readily available. Prescription drugs and even over-the-counter medications have contributed to a large number of plane crashes in the United States.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires all pilots to disclose if they are taking any medications, but does not require them to take any drug or blood tests. Commercial pilots are usually tested by their employers, but private pilots — like the ones who caused the Oklahoma crashes — are unregulated. Many of them fear that if they are honest about even legitimate prescriptions, the FAA will force them to stop flying.
The agency stands by its method of allowing pilots to disclose their own medication use as they do not have the authority to look into their medical records. The FAA also says that they will prosecute anyone caught falsifying information.
In a statement to KWTV, an FAA spokesperson said that the agency "believes that educating pilots to make themselves aware of the potential detrimental effects of medications is the most effective way to address this issue."
If someone you love is abusing prescription drugs and putting the lives of others in jeopardy, you must act now. Contact Intervention Services to learn how a drug abuse intervention can bring your friend or relative into recovery.