The Role Alcohol and Drugs Play in Truck Accidents
Posted on: February 22, 2023
Despite strict drug and alcohol policies such as those issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug Policies and Regulations, recent highway fatality statistics suggest that some truck drivers are impaired when they are behind the wheel.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, more than 43 percent of drivers who were killed in crashes had at least one drug in their system at the time of the crash. A recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that nearly 13 million people admitted to driving under the influence of an illegal drug, and 20.5 million admitted the same for alcohol. These numbers include all drivers, including commercial truckers.
This means that some truckers may be putting other drivers and passengers at great risk. Commercial trucks like big rigs (also called semitrucks, tractor trailers, and 18 wheelers) are much heavier than cars or even SUVs, so when a truck collides with a smaller vehicle, the results can be devastating.
What Leads Truckers to Drink or Use Drugs and Drive?
The trucking industry continues to be one of the most demanding and competitive fields. In the current age of same-day and overnight shipping, consumers and businesses expect to receive merchandise quickly. The only way to make this happen is to have trucks on the roads 24/7.
The average age of truckers is going up, and younger truckers are not taking the place of retiring them. The outcome is a labor shortage crisis. Though some trucking companies are trying to attract new truckers with wages and benefits, they are often resorting to putting minimally experienced or inexperienced truck drivers on the road. As a result, they are working their current truckers to the maximum.
These challenges are not the only ones truck drivers are facing. Many begin to feel isolated and bored. Some end up with health problems caused by long hours sitting in uncomfortable cabs. Truckers frequently feel fatigued due to sleep deprivation or sleep disorders. To compensate for these issues, truck drivers may take over-the-counter prescriptions, use illegal drugs, or drink alcohol. Whether this is done as a way of self-medicating or simply to relieve stress, drug and alcohol use can have a plethora of unwanted physical, mental, and psychological effects.
How Drug and Alcohol Use Affects Commercial Truckers
Even taking legally obtained drugs such as prescribed sleeping aids can cause serious impairment for truckers. Some of the most common driver-related side effects of drug and alcohol use include the following symptoms.
- Sleepiness: Anything from common cold medications to depressants like opioids can cause drowsiness behind the wheel.
- Aggressiveness: Drivers who are taking stimulants including caffeine pills, amphetamines, or cocaine may react aggressively.
- Coordination Difficulties: It can be hard for a driver to react appropriately and quickly when under the influence.
- Impaired Cognitive Function: The ability to make good decisions as a driver is more difficult after consuming alcohol or taking drugs.
What Should You Do After Being in a Truck Accident?
If you see a truck driver who is speeding, honking the horn aggressively, swerving in and out of lanes, or using turn signals sporadically, back away quickly. Your goal should be to stay safe. You can call 911 later to report the truck or call the number listed on the back of the truck (if available) to report the trucker.
In the event that you get into a truck accident, seek medical attention immediately for you and any passengers. Then, contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as you can. Recovering economic damages, non-economic damages, and potentially punitive damages after a collision with a truck can be complicated. Letting a lawyer handle the details allows you to recover and heal from someone else’s poor decision to drive while impaired.
Freehold Truck Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Offer Free Consultations for Those Affected by Truck-Related Crashes
If you or someone you love has been affected by a truck accident, reach out to the Freehold truck accident lawyers at Ellis Law for help. Call us at 732-298-6664 or contact us online. From our office in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients in Monmouth County, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Ocean County, and Middlesex County. Our team also covers Brooklyn and New York, New York.