Commercial truck drivers often experience difficult working conditions, such as long hours or strenuous physical demands. For many drivers, those long hours on the road are usually spent alone, as they spend up to 70 hours per week traveling the highways of Virginia and across the United States. These conditions can lead to a temptation to abuse alcohol and other drugs while driving, which increases the likelihood of truck accidents, endangering both themselves and others on the road. If you have been injured in a truck accident, a Virginia personal injury attorney can help you get the financial compensation you deserve for your losses.
Drug Use among Truck Drivers
Statistics show just how prevalent substance abuse is in the trucking industry. In one major study, researchers used both self-reported surveys and data from truck driver drug tests to obtain the clearest picture possible.
The results showed a disconcerting amount of truckers using mind-altering substances on the job. According to one set of tests researchers examined, approximately one in every eight tests came back positive for alcohol.
The study also examined illegal drug use and found that marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine were most commonly used by commercial truck drivers, especially amphetamines, with about 30 percent of drivers surveyed admitted to using while behind the wheel.
A Virginia personal injury attorney knows that these drugs all cause different effects, and consequently are dangerous for different reasons. Some substances, like alcohol and marijuana, sedate users, causing drowsiness and decreased alertness. Conversely, drugs like cocaine and amphetamines are stimulants. While truckers often use them to stay awake on long trips, they can also alter reaction times and cause hallucinations. Additionally, the study noted a high use of legal stimulants such as caffeine among truck drivers. While not forbidden by law, these stimulants signal the unfortunate, and sometimes dangerous, incentives that truck drivers have to keep pushing on when they would be better off getting rest.
Commercial truck drivers are required to possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Under Virginia law, a commercial truck driver is considered under the influence if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04 percent or higher. This is half the legal limit for non-commercial drivers.
If a truck driver who was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs causes a truck accident, victims can pursue damages not only from the truck driver but also for the trucking company the driver works for.
Some of the evidence a Virginia truck accident attorney will look for to help prove the company’s liability includes:
- Whether the truck driver had a history of DUI arrests prior to being hired by the trucking company.
- Whether the trucking company became aware of any substance abuse problem the truck driver had and if the appropriate steps were taken.
- Whether the trucking company failed to properly supervise the truck driver or was otherwise negligent in its duties to oversee the driver’s actions or confirm activities recorded in the driver’s log records.
Contact a Virginia Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have against the responsible party or parties. The legal team from Shapiro, Appleton, Washburn & Sharp has successfully advocated for many truck accident victims and their families, and we understand how complicated these cases can be. Our attorneys are available to meet and discuss the details of your case and how we may be able to help. Call our office today to set up a free and confidential case evaluation.
For more information about truck accidents in Virginia, please download our free guide.