The National Transportation Safety Board stated Nov. 19 that it has determined that a tractor trailer driver that hit a bus on Sept. 26 in Oklahoma, which killed four people, lost control of his rig because he was high on a synthetic cannabinoid.
Synthetic cannabinoids are new chemical compounds that are sold as ‘legal alternatives’ to marijuana. However, their effects on humans can be worse than marijuana, and their use has been known to cause psychosis and seizures.
The driver, from Saginaw TX, had a documented history of drug use. He was driving his big rig north on I-35 near Davis OK. After he went around a curve, the truck left the left lane, went across the median, and hit the bus going south on I-35.
Federal law outlaws tractor trailer drivers from driving when they are impaired. However, federal regulations only mandate testing for a few types of drugs. This crash investigation shows that employers and law enforcement are facing new challenges in testing drivers for impairing drug substances.
The NTSB has published recommendations that state that additional drug tests should be used to test for synthetic cannabinoids.
Most of the stories we read about impaired truck drivers involve alcohol. However, we are truck accident personal injury attorneys in Virginia, and we see many commercial truck accidents that are due to drug use.
In particular, the use of marijuana and its synthetic counterparts are becoming very common. These trucking accidents lead to devastating injuries for people in regular vehicles.
What effects does cannabis have on a trucker’s driving ability?
- Slower reaction times – accidents happen very fast, but a trucker who is high will not be able to react in time.
- Difficulty tracking objects – this is vital when a trucker is driving a large, heavy rig at highway speed.
- Inattention – some say that smoking pot and its synthetic cousins improves their concentration, but it is a scientific fact that it actually makes you not pay attention to your driving.
- Poor hand-eye coordination – not being able to coordinate your hands and eyes can be deadly when the driver is behind the wheel of a big rig.
Anyone who has been injured by a negligent truck driver should not be satisfied with the driver’s conviction in a criminal court. Injuries caused by out of control trucks are serious, and the injured often need life long medical care. Large settlements are possible when the case is handled by experienced legal counsel.