Truck Driver Drug & Alcohol Abuse
According to statistics, in 44% of traffic accidents involving fatalities a driver was driving while impaired. Recent news reports indicate that truck drivers fall into this category, as they are relying more on alcohol and drugs to make it through the night. According to a review of 1.6 million test results, there has been a 33% jump in cocaine use among safety-sensitive workers in 2011.
Many legal experts believe that there are at least 200,000 truck drivers on the road today with substance abuse problems. While the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Roadcheck 2008 indicated that 1% of truck drivers that were stopped were impaired (or approximately 92,500 drivers), many individuals think this number should be inflated due to doctor shopping, cheating on drug testing, truck companies that hire without conducting background checks, and the reality that many truck drivers have "disappeared" after crashes in which drugs and alcohol were suspected.
A study by the Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety found that of tractor trailer drivers studied, 15% had marijuana, 12% had non-prescription stimulants, 5% had prescription stimulants, 2% had cocaine and fewer than 1% had alcohol in their systems.
Because truck drivers work long hours, it is not uncommon for them to turn to drugs or alcohol to help them reach their destination on time. When already tired drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and are driving semi-trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds, horrible accidents can result. In the words of one article, "When not carefully controlled, semi-trucks become death machines on our highways."
It can take a semi-truck 200 feet to come to a complete stop, while driving at 55 miles per hour- an alarming statistic when you consider that drugs and alcohol affect a driver's reaction time and motor skills. If a personal injury attorney can prove that the truck driver that crashed into you was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will have a better chance of securing a successful settlement.
Laws Concerning Truck Drivers & Trucking Companies
Truck drivers are held to a higher standard. Drivers that hold CDL licenses can be charged with a DUI with a BAC level of only .04 (according to federal government regulations).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also states that truck drivers cannot have used alcohol within four hours of their shifts. Also, initially a trucking company is supposed to have individuals undergo alcohol and drug screening prior to hiring. Truck companies should enact strong drug and alcohol testing policies and should enforce these consistently.
If a truck company has suspicions that a driver has been using alcohol or a controlled substance, that driver should be screened. Training should be conducted that assists supervisors in recognizing drivers that have been carrying out their shifts while impaired. Steps such as random drug and alcohol tests can prove especially effective. After a fatal truck crash, a truck driver should also submit to drug and alcohol testing. In short, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that a motor carrier must:
- Establish a company drug and alcohol policy
- Designate a company official to run their drug/alcohol program
- Be aware of which employees must be tested for alcohol/drugs
- Establish a contract with a drug and alcohol collection service and medical review officer
- Train driver supervisors to administer reasonable suspicion testing
- Educate employees on testing procedures, consequences of refusal, consequences of positive testing and post-accident testing procedures
- Provide educational materials
- Obtain the required, signed release and permission forms
- Know the procedures when an employee tests positive for alcohol or drugs
If a truck driver or trucking company was negligent, we can prove this in court! If a trucking company did not carry out drug and alcohol testing or if it did not perform the necessary background checks, it can be held liable.
Why should you hire a personal injury attorney?
After an accident involving a big rig, your number one priority should be recovering- leave the legal wrangling to us! Our firm can investigate the details surrounding your accident and can determine whether or not drugs or alcohol were involved.
Professional litigation can help you, as a trucking company's insurance company will most likely offer you the smallest settlement possible. Because large truck companies are often used to these cases and employ several attorneys, they can come across as big, bad bullies- but we will do everything within our power to uphold you rights!
When your life and health have been so adversely impacted, you should not settle for less than you deserve! We can help you fight for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability, disfigurement, loss of consortium and loss of quality of life. The reality is, you need a tough advocate to help you go up against a trucking company!
Contact Arnold & Itkin for the aggressive legal representation you need on your side today!