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Drug & Alcohol Abuse

Truck Accidents Caused by Impaired Driving

Truck Driver Drug & Alcohol Abuse

The Dangers of Impaired Truck Drivers

Everyone is aware of the dangers of impaired driving, but when a truck driver is operating an 18-wheeler while impaired, those dangers are exponentially greater due to the sheer size of the big rig. Most trucking accidents are caused by driver error. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver error causes more trucking accidents than weather, road conditions and vehicle performance combine.

Have you been injured in a trucking accident? Contact a firm that has recovered billions of dollars.

The Dangers of Drug & Alcohol Use

Drug and alcohol use not only impairs a driver's judgment, but also slows reaction times. Truck drivers who are operating a commercial vehicle under impairment are an extreme hazard to other motorists on the road. Sadly, it's not an uncommon occurrence. A study conducted by the Institute for Traffic Safety found that while fewer than 1% of drivers were under the influence of alcohol while on the job, 15% had marijuana in their system, 12% had non-prescription stimulants (including cocaine) and another 5% had prescription stimulants.

Truck Driver Drug Use

When thinking of impaired driving, most people commonly think of alcohol abuse, however, that is not the only dangerous substance truck drivers can use when behind the wheel. In fact, in order to meet increasingly difficult demands, truck drivers often turn to drugs to awake and alert for those long hours spent on the road.

The most common type of drug used by truck drivers to stay awake is some form of stimulant. This includes amphetamines such as Adderall and Dexedrine. These medications induce temporary improvements in mental and physical alertness. Some signs that these drugs are disturbingly accessible and widespread in use among truck drivers. In fact, a survey conducted by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention revealed that 17 out of every 20 truck drivers interviewed found it very easy to obtain methamphetamines at truck stops.

Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) confirms these troubling reports. Surveys and roadside testing have revealed that one in five truck drivers use stimulants on at least some portion of their long-haul trips in order to stay awake. Unfortunately, these drugs can also cause serious psychological side effects.

Common side effects of stimulant abuse include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis, with high enough doses

Any one of these side effects could clearly impair a driver's ability to safely operate a large commercial vehicle.

Laws Concerning Truck Drivers & Trucking Companies

While most states set laws for private citizens governing drug and alcohol use while operating a motor vehicle, the federal government and FMCSA regulate the use of drugs and alcohol amongst truck drivers. Most states set the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) at 0.08, but truck drivers are held to a higher standard. The legal limit for a truck driver while on-the-job is 0.04 BAC. The FMCSA also requires employers to perform drug and alcohol test as a condition of employment. Trucking companies are required to have individuals undergo alcohol/drug screening prior to hiring, as well as ongoing testing policies. For example, if a truck company has suspicions that a driver has been using alcohol or a controlled substance, that driver should be screened.

Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that a motor carrier must:

  • Provide educational materials
  • Establish a company drug and alcohol policy
  • Obtain the required signed release and permission forms
  • Designate a company official to run their drug/alcohol program
  • Be aware of which employees must be tested for alcohol/drugs
  • Train driver supervisors to administer reasonable suspicion testing
  • Know the procedures when an employee tests positive for alcohol or drugs
  • Establish a contract with a drug and alcohol collection service and medical review officer

A federal program that would provide a national database to track drug and alcohol offenses for commercial driver's license holders is also under consideration. Under current screening programs, many states such as Texas check driving records for commercial driver's licenses, but they only see offenses in Texas. This leaves the door open for out-of-state truck drivers with prior drug or alcohol related offenses to go undetected in screening.

Drug & Alcohol Testing for Truck Drivers

As stated above, truck drivers must submit to random tests for drugs or alcohol in their system. Truck companies have the authority to administer drug and alcohol tests to drivers where there is reasonable suspicion regarding conduct. Those drivers who refuse may be barred from driving. Trucking companies are required to randomly test 10% of their drivers each year for drugs and alcohol use while on duty. However, there is concern after a recent Congressional study showed insight into lax testing protocols and the ease with which drivers could falsify results.

Recover the Resources You Need. Contact a Truck Accident Attorney.

After an accident involving a big rig, your number one priority should be recovering. Our firm can investigate the details surrounding your accident and can determine whether or not drugs or alcohol were involved. When your life and health have been so adversely impacted, you should not settle for less than you deserve. The truth is you need a tough advocate to help you! Contact Arnold & Itkin today to request a free consult.

Case Results

Check Out Our Victories

  • $12 Million Massive Settlement Obtained for Truck Driver Arnold & Itkin is proud to announce that our firm has secured a $12 million settlement on behalf a truck driver who was crushed by his own cargo—which then led directly to a stroke. The driver, who was 56 years old at the time, now requires costly ...
  • $10 Million Settlement Obtained for Family Affected by Fatal Vehicle Accident Our firm represented the family of two people who were killed after their vehicle was hit by an 18-wheeler running a red light. We were successful in reaching an eight figure settlement on their behalf.
  • $10 Million Settlement Won for Family Against Negligent Trucking Company Attorneys Kurt Arnold, Caj Boatright, and Ces Tavares represented a family who had lost their father in a tragic 18-wheeler accident. He was driving home when a trucker made a dangerous maneuver and caused a massive collision. The trucking company ...
  • $3.2 Million Settlement Reached for Injured Husband & Wife Attorney Cory Itkin represented a husband and wife who were injured after being hit by two semi-trucks. The wife sustained back injures while the husband was knocked unconscious; he needed several surgeries. Our firm was successful in reaching a ...
  • $2.1 Million Settlement Obtained for Truck Accident Victim Arnold & Itkin LLP secured a multimillion-dollar settlement for a man who suffered severe neck and back injuries in a truck accident. Our firm aggressively pursued the case until the defendant settled with our client days before trial.
  • $2 Million Large Settlement Obtained for Grieving Family Arnold & Itkin is proud to have secured a massive settlement for a family who lost their loved one due to the negligence and reckless action of a commercial vehicle driver. Our work will allow our clients to live in financial stability while they ...
  • $1.6 Million Large Settlement Reached for Victim of Severe Truck Accident Truck accident attorneys at Arnold & Itkin secured a sizable settlement for a client who was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler on the highway. Her injuries required multiple surgeries, but the defendants refused to take responsibility. Her $1.6 million ...
  • $1.5 Million Big Rig Accident Victim Received Jury Verdict Arnold & Itkin LLP obtained a $1.5 million verdict on behalf of a client who suffered a torn meniscus when he was bumped by a tractor trailer. We are especially pleased with this result because the defendants accepted no responsibility for the injury ...
  • $1.5 Million Jury Verdict Ruled in Favor of Longshoreman Arnold & Itkin obtained a $1.55 million verdict on behalf of a client who was seriously injured when a yard mule driver collided with the pickup truck in which he was standing. The defendants only offered to settle for $35,000 while denying the ...
  • $1.49 Million Settlement for Man Struck by a Truck Our firm helped represent a client who was severely injured after he was struck by a truck. We helped recover $1.49 million on his behalf.
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