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How Big of a Problem is Truck Driver Drug Use?

Commercial vehicles like 18-wheelers are large and heavy, and they can cause devastating injuries when they crash into cars on the road. For this reason, truckers need to be at the top of their game when behind the wheel. This means staying completely focused on the road, well rested, and with lightning-fast reflexes. Unfortunately, alcohol and drug use impede the ability to drive safely. Many innocent people get crunched when a heavy truck barrels into them because a drunk or high trucker can’t control their vehicle. If this has happened to you or a loved one, contact our Atlanta trucking accident lawyer for more information.

Substance Abuse is a Growing Problem

Federal regulations require that trucking companies give drug tests at certain times:

  • Before employment
  • When the company has reason to suspect a trucker is drunk or high
  • After certain collisions involving truckers
  • Randomly

Alarmingly, the number of violations has continued to grow recently. For example, there were 5,258 positive drug tests reported in March 2022, which was an increase from the 4,723 reported in March 2021 and 4,234 in March 2020. Overall, this represents an increase of nearly 25% in only two short years.

Additionally, 929 truckers refused a drug test in March 2022, which would lead to their suspension. This number had grown from 721 in March 2021 and 604 in March 2020. In other words, a 50% growth in refusals over a two-year period!

Drugs and Alcohol Make Our Roads Less Safe

There is a reason the government prohibits drug and alcohol use. Alcohol, for example, is a known depressant, which can delay a driver’s reflexes and make fatigue even worse. Truckers will be unable to stop in time and might even fall asleep behind the wheel if they’ve had one too many drinks. Many fatal accidents result when trucks hit cars going at high speeds.

The most common drug used was marijuana, which has similar properties to alcohol. In fact, marijuana is responsible for four times as many suspensions as any other drug.

Other illegal substances, like cocaine, can encourage risk taking. A trucker might pass illegally or blow through a red light because he is high on cocaine or a similar drug. The odds of a serious collision go up.

Trucking Companies Face a Shortage of Truckers

This explosion in drug violations comes at a time when the industry is suffering from a shortage of drivers. These companies might feel pressure to keep a driver on the road, even if he refuses or fails a drug test. Other companies might refuse to test randomly as is required by federal law.

Financial pressures often lead companies to push their drivers past the breaking point. Sadly, motorists suffer the brunt of any truck accident.

Contact an Atlanta Trucking Accident Attorney

There are certain signs a driver is intoxicated or high, such as red eyes and erratic behavior. If you’ve been injured in a crash, Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys can help. Call us to schedule a free case evaluation.