Commercial truck drivers perform a vital function in our society. These industrious workers are responsible for transporting necessary fuel, food, lumber, and other critical goods across the United States. While the vast majority of truck drivers are responsible, hard working individuals, a select few act in a negligent manner and turn to the use of drugs while driving. Part of the job of a trucker is spending long hours on the road, often at night and into the early hours of the morning. For these reasons and several others, drug use has become a problem in the trucking industry.
According to research conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), drug usage plays a significant role in truck accidents. The NTSB, in collaboration with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, investigated fatal truck accidents in eight states over a one year period. One or more drugs were detected in 67 percent of all truck drivers and 33 percent of drivers had psychoactive drugs as well as alcohol in their blood stream. The most common drugs used were cannabinoids and ethanol. Cocaine and benzoylecgonine were the second most prevalent.
More recently, a global study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine looked to worldwide usage of drugs by truckers. The study found that the overall use of drugs was high based on both driver’s own reports and their testing. Alcohol and drug use resulted in dangerous consequences, causing sleepiness, decreased concentrations, and potential accidents. The United States had the highest number of positive alcohol tests at 12.5 percent.
Controlling Drug Use Among Truck Drivers
The NTSB has passed strict rules and guidelines for truck drivers and their employers. Trucking companies are required to randomly test employees for drugs and alcohol. At least half of all their drivers must be tested annually. While these laws did have an initial impact in reducing drug usage rates, new technology in recent years makes it easier for truckers to evade drug tests. The NTSB has recently called for trucking companies to use hair tests to ensure their drivers are not using drugs, which can be more effective and detect the presence of drugs for a longer period of time.
Drug and alcohol usage is a major cause of truck accidents. As such, all truck accident victims should retain the assistance of a reputable trucking accident attorney who can investigate the possibility that drug or alcohol use caused their accident. Truck accident victims who have experienced injuries due to negligence can be eligible to receive compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, physical therapy, and more stemming from the truck accident.