Truck Accidents Due to Drug and Alcohol Use

A career as a truck driver involves long hours spent in isolation. Alone behind the wheel of a truck for hours or days on end, truck drivers are prone to loneliness, boredom, and depression. For many truckers, finding an escape into drugs or alcohol is the only reprieve they get from a desolate life on the road.

Addiction and drug abuse in the trucking industry is a serious issue. While everyone is aware that drinking and driving or driving while using drugs is dangerous and illegal, too many truckers choose to get behind the wheel while impaired. When a truck driver’s choices cause another person harm, the driver and possibly the trucking company for which the driver works may be responsible for paying damages.

Alcohol Abuse in the Trucking Industry

While the use of alcohol is legal, truck drivers are heavily regulated when it comes to using alcohol or any type of intoxicating substance before driving. Commercial truck and bus drivers can use alcohol in their personal lives, but cannot drink within four hours of a shift. Additionally, commercial drivers have lower legal limits for alcohol. They can be arrested for driving under the influence for having a blood alcohol concentration of .04 rather than the standard BAC of .08.

To prevent alcohol abuse in the trucking industry, truckers are tested for alcohol and drugs when they are first hired for their driving position, and are also tested randomly throughout their driving careers. Truckers also have to submit to drug and alcohol testing after an accident, and must take tests on demand if the trucking company has reason to believe that the driver is intoxicated.

Nevertheless, many drivers still use alcohol to relax and unwind. Studies have shown that as much as 12% of drug and alcohol tests on commercial truckers come back positive for alcohol use. With approximately 3.5 million commercial truck drivers in the U.S., this means that as many as 420,000 truckers could be on the road while drunk or hungover. What is more concerning is that that number is much likely a very low estimate, considering that not all alcohol use is caught by drug tests.

Illegal and Prescription Drug Abuse in Truckers

Truckers that want to push the limits and drive farther and longer than the law allows often turn to drugs for an extra boost. Amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs can be found easily at rest stops across the country, and many truckers seek out powerful stimulants to stay awake.

International studies of the trucking industry have found several common trends among drivers who use and abuse drugs and alcohol. These drivers tend to be younger people looking to prove themselves by driving long and difficult routes. These routes usually have higher pay rates and require driving at night rather than during the day. Drivers caught using illegal drugs also tended to have had at least one traffic ticket and had been involved in a serious or major accident in the past.

Truckers that use illegal drugs and alcohol often get trapped in a cycle of substance abuse. The driver may use amphetamines or cocaine to stay awake, then need alcohol or marijuana in order to sleep. To prevent or ease a hangover in the morning, the driver takes more of a substance and cycle starts again. Soon, the truck driver may not be able to work at all without using some type of substance.

While drug and alcohol abuse obviously take a toll on the trucker’s health and wellbeing, the use of drugs and alcohol also impacts his or her ability to drive. The trucker may have slowed reaction times, a shortened attention span, or may take dangerous risks while driving. Any of these things can easily cause an accident.

Get Justice After An Accident Caused By Truck Driver Drug Abuse

If you were injured by a drunk or impaired truck driver, you should act quickly to protect your legal rights. At Gerson & Schwartz, P.A., our knowledgeable Miami truck accident lawyers will review your case for free and help you decide your best course of action. We believe that there is no excuse for operating a vehicle—especially a semi-truck—while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and we will fight to get you the justice you deserve.

To learn more about your legal options, contact our office today and schedule a free consultation by calling (877) 475-2905.

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