The Prevalence of Drug Use by Commercial Truck Drivers

One of the most catastrophic types of personal injury cases our Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers handle is truck accidents. Because these vehicles are so massive, the damages from these accidents are often devastating. An increasingly significant issue in truck accidents is drug use by commercial truck drivers.

Results of one major study revealed that commercial truck drivers in the United States are operating these massive vehicles under the influence of drugs, especially cocaine, at much higher numbers than drug test results compiled by the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse are showing. The Clearinghouse is an online database overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that gives employers and government agencies real-time access to information about CDL driver drug and alcohol program violations.

Drug Testing Accuracy

The study was conducted by the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (Trucking Alliance) and the University of Central Arkansas.

In its findings, researchers identified two alarming concerns for commuters sharing the roads with commercial truck drivers. The first finding was that truck drivers are using cocaine significantly more often than marijuana. This has also been the conclusion of earlier studies.

The study also found that the Clearinghouse’s results are not accurate due to its method of testing. The Clearinghouse only uses results from urine tests, which the study says are less accurate than hair follicle drug testing. Researchers concluded that if hair follicle tests were the standard used, approximately twice the number of commercial truck drivers tested by the federal government would be disqualified for driving while impaired.

Testing Results

To reach their conclusions, researchers looked at 1.5 million pre-employment urine drug tests recorded in the Clearinghouse and just under 600,000 urine and hair tests submitted by carriers to the Trucking Alliance for pre-employment drug tests.

For drivers disqualified from driving because of drug test results, cocaine was identified 16 percent more frequently and opioids 14 percent more frequently than what the Clearinghouse was reporting. Overall, researchers found that hair follicle testing detected the presence of drugs 825 percent more frequently than urine testing alone.

If hair testing was the current Clearinghouse drug testing method, an additional 58,910 truck drivers would have been disqualified from operating a commercial truck. This is double the number of Clearinghouse test results put in prohibited status in just 2020 alone.

Benefits of Hair Follicle Testing

Congress authorized hair follicle drug testing for both pre-employment testing and random testing of commercial truck drivers in 2015. When testing an individual’s hair follicle, their drug use for the prior 90 days can be determined. Some of the more common drugs hair follicle testing can reveal include:

  • Amphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana
  • Meth (Methamphetamine)
  • Opioids (codeine, morphine, etc.)

Call Our Personal Injury Law Firm Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident caused by a truck driver operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. Truck accidents can be more complex than other types of motor vehicle accidents because, depending on the circumstances of the crash, there may be multiple parties who are liable for a victim’s injuries.

Victims of truck accidents may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, loss of income and benefits, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, scarring, disfigurement, and more.

Our Virginia personal injury law firm has successfully represented many clients injured in truck accidents and will use all available resources to aggressively advocate for you and your family in obtaining the financial compensation you deserve. Our firm has obtained more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts for our clients and will work diligently to get you the best possible outcome based on the circumstances of your case.