Accidents and Truck Driver Drug Use
I’m Ed Smith, a Rancho Cordova Trucking Accident Lawyer. Accidents and truck driver drug use continue to be a serious problem. It is no secret that driving and illegal drugs do not mix. Particularly if the driver is behind the wheel of a large commercial truck. These trucks can be hauling a fully-loaded trailer weighing 80,000 pounds or more. Marijuana or alcohol use can increase sleepiness and driver fatigue. These risky driving behaviors can decrease concentration and lead to serious accidents. Cocaine and amphetamines may help truck drivers stay awake, but these drugs can often cause agitation, vertigo and hallucinations. This can adversely impact driver perceptions and reactions. The inability to react or to pay attention to traffic because a truck driver is under the influence may have fatal consequences.
How Often do Truck Drivers Use Drugs?
A study was conducted in 2013 to try to determine how often truck drivers use legal and illegal drugs. They studied truck driver use of marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines. They looked at why truck drivers used these substances. Estimates of use varied, but overall, the study concluded that the frequency of use of mind-altering substances was high and connected to poor working conditions. The study analyzed data from a number of different surveys and drug tests given to truck drivers not only from the United States, but from other countries as well, particularly Brazil and Australia which also rely heavily on trucking. Trucking accidents and truck driver drug use is not limited to the United States.
Truck Driver Drug Use is Linked to Lifestyle Factors
According to the study, oftentimes drug use is linked to other lifestyle factors. Truck drivers that used drugs were more likely to be young, inexperienced, to drive long nighttime routes, to work for smaller companies, and to have been in an accident previously. They were also likely to make more money because they were working longer hours, which was usually aided by the use of illegal substances.
Sharing the Road With Impaired Truck Drivers
Driving a large truck under the influence of mind-altering substances is extremely dangerous not only for the truck driver, but for everyone sharing the road with that truck. Trucking accidents are more often than not a serious event. If you suspect a drunk or high truck driver, driving defensively is sometimes the only option to avoid trucking accidents. The authors of the study asserted that it is important that everyone involved in the trucking industry be aware of the problem and work towards resolving it.
Prohibiting Truck Driver Drug Use
In the United States, truck drivers are prohibited from taking drugs or drinking alcohol within four hours of the time they start driving. The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict requirements for pre-employment drug and alcohol testing of truck drivers. The regulations also require truck drivers to submit to random and post trucking accident drug and alcohol testing. According to the FMCSA, 1,240 truck drivers failed drug tests in 2013, which was up from 1,139 in 2012. However, the failure rates remained below one percent of all truck drivers. While these regulations may have some effect on combatting truck driver drug use, the testing requirements do not necessarily keep tabs on truck driver abuse of prescription and over the counter drugs, which can also have serious impacts on a truck driver’s ability to appropriately maneuver a large truck.
Trucking accidents caused by truck driver drug use can have serious consequences. If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking accident, it is important that you consult with a knowledgeable Trucking Accident Attorney to determine whether you have a viable claim. One of the first things a truck accident lawyer will do is subpoena the records of the trucking company in order to discover the personnel record of the trucker involved. Such records may include past history of drug and/or alcohol use, criminal offenses and number of hours driver travels over the highway.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious accident involving a large truck or commercial vehicle, call me now at (916) 921-6400, or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.
We are also members of Million Dollar Advocates Forum.