Drug Use by Commercial Truck Drivers

One of the most challenging jobs today is long-distance commercial truck driving. The job can be draining both physically and mentally, with long hours on roads and highways that go on and on for hundreds of miles. It can be a boring and lonely job at times. Long-distance trucking often causes erratic and inconsistent sleep patterns, especially when a truck driver is under pressure to meet almost impossible delivery schedules.

Unfortunately, many truck drivers turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with the stress and strain of being on the road so much. A driver under the influence is a serious danger not only to himself or herself, but also to the rest of the commuters who they share the road with. Many truck accidents are drug- or alcohol-related. If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to find out what legal options you may have.

Regulations on Rest Time

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency that has oversight over trucking companies and truck drivers. One of the regulations the FMCSA has in place addresses how many hours a truck driver can be on the road and how many hours of rest time they must take. For example, a truck driver who has been off duty for at least 10 hours can only drive a maximum of 11 hours. If that driver has only taken eight hours of rest time, then they can only drive a maximum of 10 hours.

Despite these rules, truck drivers still become fatigued. In order to fight that fatigue and stay on the road, many drivers turn to stimulants, including amphetamines and cocaine, in order to stay alert and awake. What they often don’t consider is just how dangerous these drugs and the impact they have on a driver’s ability to avoid making fatal driving mistakes. Many drivers also turn to over-the-counter stimulants.

Truck drivers also turn to marijuana when they are behind the wheel. In one survey, 20 percent of truck drivers who participated admitted that they used marijuana when they are driving. Even though marijuana is now legal in many states, for either medical or recreational purposes, it is still against the law for anyone to drive under the influence of marijuana. Marijuana can also have dangerous effects on a driver’s ability to drive safely, including causing sleepiness, disorientation, and a reduction in reaction time. Trucking companies are supposed to conduct random drug tests on all their employees and take action for any driver that tests positive for drug use.

Unfortunately, as one federal study revealed, as the number of drug tests conducted on truck drivers decreases, the number of positive drug tests keeps increasing.

Contact a Virginia Injury Attorney for Assistance

Because of their size and weight, the injuries sustained from a tractor-trailer accident are often much more severe than accidents that happen with smaller vehicles. Not only truck accidents more catastrophic than car accidents, the process for pursuing damages is also more complex. Unlike car accidents, where there is usually only one other at-fault party – the driver – truck accidents often involve multiple parties that can be liable. When a truck driver causes a crash, the trucking company the driver works for is legally responsible for that driver’s actions.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you are no doubt facing exorbitant medical bills, loss of income, and multiple other losses. A Virginia truck accident attorney can evaluate your case and determine how much financial compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries.

The legal team at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn have been successfully advocating for accident victims for more than three decades and will use all available resources to get you the compensation you deserve.