Truck Accidents Due to Substance Abuse
Driving a large commercial truck over long distances for a living is not an easy job. Truck drivers are required to work grueling hours behind the wheel of a vehicle weighing 80,000 pounds or more, and must navigate difficult traffic conditions while fighting boredom and fatigue. Unfortunately, all too many truck drivers turn to substances both legal and illegal to help them stay awake and focused, and many succumb to addiction. When substance use or abuse causes a truck accident in the Miami area, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A., can help you get justice.Substance Abuse in Truck Drivers May Start Off Slowly
The majority of Americans use some type of stimulant or drug every day. While most people don’t like to think of themselves as addicted to a substance, anyone who has attempted to quit smoking or stop drinking coffee knows how difficult it can be to break these habits. Fortunately, substances like caffeine and nicotine are mild stimulants and are not very harmful by themselves. (While the chemicals in tobacco and cigarettes are known carcinogens, nicotine by itself is about as dangerous as caffeine.)
Truck drivers often stay on the road for ten or more hours every day. It is not uncommon for truckers to use stimulants like caffeine and nicotine in large quantities to stay alert while driving. Like any other drug, however, the body can become used to these stimulants and larger quantities of the drugs are needed over time. Eventually, truckers may use so much caffeine and/or nicotine that the substances will have little effect.
In some instances, truck drivers may need so much help to stay awake that they turn to illegal drugs for help. Drivers might use amphetamines or cocaine to stay awake, which can further impair their driving ability as well as their decision-making skills and judgment. Drivers taking these types of illegal drugs can be extremely dangerous on the road, especially when they are behind the wheel of a truck weighing tens of thousands of pounds.Stimulants Can’t Substitute for Sleep
Most truckers who use stimulants and other substances on the road are doing so in an effort to stay awake and stay safe. There is substantial evidence that stimulants like caffeine do help truck drivers (and all other drivers) stay awake and alert. Caffeine in particular can help truckers fight off the fatigue and “road hypnosis” that can set in after long hours of driving.
No amount of caffeine or other substances, however, can substitute for a full night of sleep. Truck drivers often push themselves to drive longer than is safe to make more money and make their deliveries on time. When these drivers skip sleep and rely on substances instead, they may not be capable of making safe and responsible decisions on the road.
Money is the main reason truck drivers are tempted to rely on substances. When truckers get paid by the mile, they are rewarded for driving farther and longer distances. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines, and other substances offer a quick fix that can make a driver feel more awake and feel able to drive for more time. However, it is easy to get trapped into a cycle of abuse. Truckers who abuse substances in an effort to stay awake may feel jittery, hungover, or suffer from hallucinations and slowed reaction times once the effect of the substance wears off. To avoid feeling bad, drivers may consume more or different substances in an attempt to “even out.”Were You Injured By An Impaired Truck Driver?
No matter why a truck driver decides to use or abuse a substance, the truth is that impaired truck drivers are a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road. When a drunk, drugged, or tired truck driver causes an accident, he or she should be responsible for the pain and damage caused to those injured.
If you were injured, or suffered through the death of a loved one caused by an impaired truck driver, you need experienced legal help. At Gerson & Schwartz, P.A., we know how much pain truck accidents caused by substance use or abuse can cause to families in Miami. Learn more about your legal options and how we can help you after a truck accident by scheduling a free consultation. Call (877) 475-2905 today to get started.