Too many wrecks are caused by impaired semi-truck drivers.
Drug and alcohol abuse among commercial truck drivers presents a significant risk to everyone on the road. Operating a heavy commercial truck, weighing up to 80,000 pounds, demands clear judgment and quick reflexes from the driver. Impaired driving due to substance abuse undermines these essential capabilities, placing both the driver and other motorists at risk of injury or death in a truck accident.
Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveals the consequences of commercial truck accidents. On average, in the U.S., there are 433,000 heavy trucks involved in accidents, resulting in 116,000 injuries and a staggering 4,000 fatalities. In one recent year in Indiana, commercial vehicles were involved in nearly 17,000 accidents, causing over 150 deaths and about 3,300 injuries.
Those alarming statistics highlight the urgent need for measures to prevent reckless driving by truckers, including impaired driving. As a result, drug testing is a critical safety tool to ensure that truck drivers are equipped to handle their massive vehicles responsibly.
Do commercial truck drivers face random drug testing?
The FMCSA imposes strict rules on commercial truck drivers regarding drug and alcohol use while operating their vehicles. For example, the legal blood alcohol limit for truckers is 0.04%, half the limit for other drivers, and consumption of alcohol is prohibited within four hours of driving.
In line with these regulations, mandatory drug and alcohol tests for truckers include random testing, pre-employment testing, and post-accident testing. Refusal to undergo a test can result in the driver being disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle. The FMCSA also requires truck drivers to attend safety seminars and classes to emphasize the dangers of impaired driving. Employers are also responsible for conducting drug and alcohol tests on new drivers, with failure to do so potentially resulting in fines and liability for the trucking company.
Recently, a trucking industry group named the Trucking Alliance called for the recognition of hair sample drug tests as an alternative to urine tests by the FMCSA. The Alliance argues that "public safety is improved through the use of hair testing because drug use is more accurately detected, and drug users are removed from the operation of commercial motor vehicles." However, the FMCSA rejected this petition, stating it lacked the statutory authority to make such a change.
How many truck drivers use drugs?
In recent years, drug use has become a serious issue in the trucking industry. The FMCSA's Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has revealed that thousands of commercial truck drivers test positive for drugs and alcohol annually. The substances detected in these positive tests include amphetamines, cocaine, and various prescription opioids, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.
While marijuana is the most commonly detected substance, it is worth noting that operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence of any controlled substance, including marijuana (even in states where it's approved for recreational use), is illegal. In 2022 alone, over 40,000 commercially licensed truck drivers failed a federally mandated drug screening for marijuana and did not reapply for work.
These findings underscore the need for continued efforts to address drug use in the trucking industry and ensure the safety of all road users.
Contact an Indiana truck accident attorney.
Investigating the connection between drug or alcohol use and a truck accident can be a complex process, requiring a thorough examination of the evidence. Even if there are visible signs of impairment, such as erratic driving or the presence of drugs in the truck, proving the trucker was impaired can be challenging.
Mandatory drug and alcohol testing of truckers after a crash can provide critical evidence for the investigation. Eyewitness accounts of trucker intoxication before, during, or after the accident can also help establish fault. The trucker's driving history, including any previous incidents of substance abuse or reckless behavior, and the trucking company's knowledge of these issues can also play a crucial role in the investigation.
At Boughter Sinak, LLC, we understand the complexities of truck accident cases. We know that to hold the truck driver and trucking company responsible for the harm they have caused, we need to conduct a thorough investigation and gather all the facts. Our attorneys will listen to your story, speak to witnesses, and retain experts as needed to build a strong case.
We will demand every dollar you deserve in compensation for your injuries and losses. Our results-driven approach has brought real results to truck accident victims, including several settlements in excess of $1 million. To see how an experienced Indiana truck accident lawyer can help you, contact us today for a free consultation. We're located in Fort Wayne and South Bend, Indiana.