Hauling long distances is a lonely profession, so it is not surprising that many truckers turn to drugs or alcohol to help them get through the day. Unfortunately, too many truckers end up impaired as a result, and they cause collisions. Larson & Gallivan Law understands the trucking industry quite well. We know that long haul companies must test their employees regularly for drugs and/or alcohol, but many fail to and, as a result, many innocent people get hurt. Our Glens Falls truck accident lawyers explain the scope of drug abuse in the trucking industry and how to seek justice following a collision.
Drug & Alcohol Statistics
In 2019, the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse was created. This agency collects testing data and helps us better understand the prevalence of drug use among truckers. Andthe numbers are startling:
- In 2022, there were 69,668 positive drug tests or refusals across the nation.
- In 2021, there were 59,011 positive test or refusals in the country.
- In 2022, there were 40,916 violations for use of marijuana, which was a staggering 31.6% increase from the previous year.
- In 2022, 10,953 violations were for cocaine metabolite.
The other most common drugs were methamphetamine, amphetamine, oxymorphone, and oxycodone.
Other studies have shown that alcohol abuse is a problem for truck drivers, who cannot be impaired while on the job. In fact, they have a lower legal limit due to the danger posed by the large vehicles they drive.
Federal Drug Testing Requirements
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has adoptedrequired testing in the following situations:
- Pre-employment testing. New drivers must have a negative drug test result before they can operate a commercial vehicle on the roads. Employers can also require an alcohol test.
- Random testing. Employers will randomly administer drug tests throughout the year to truckers when they are off duty and alcohol tests when they are on duty or right before or after their shift.
- Reasonable suspicion testing. A supervisor can request drug or alcohol testing when they have a reasonable suspicion that the driver is on drugs or alcohol. For example, the supervisor might smell marijuana or smell alcohol on a trucker’s breath.
- Post-accident testing. Trucking companies must test for alcohol and drugs when truckers are involved in certain accidents.
If a trucker fails a test—or if they refuse to take a test—then they should be suspended. They cannot drive again until they go through a “return to duty” process, which also includes additional drug testing. Unfortunately, some trucking companies are suffering from a shortage of workers, which is cutting into their profits. They might cut corners, overlook obvious signs of impairment, or hide negative results just to keep a trucker on the road.
How Drugs Make Trucking Less Safe
Like alcohol, many drugs are depressants. They can impair a trucker’s ability to take swift, decisive action to avoid a crash. Some of the problems include:
- Delayed reflexes. A trucker might see a driver stopped up ahead but not know how to hit the brakes in time. Thus, an accident occurs.
- Coordination problems. A drugged trucker might lack the coordination to change a truck’s direction by turning the steering wheel.
- Vision changes. Some truckers get blurred or doubled vision when high or drunk, or else they can’t see as well at night. Some might even hallucinate.
- Increased drowsiness. Hauling for 14 hours is already exhausting, but adding a depressant on top of that could cause a truck driver to fall asleep. Unsurprisingly, they will drive straight into cars stopped on the road.
- Other drugs might increase risky behavior. For example, a trucker might travel too fast or run a red light when hopped up on stimulants.
Your Rights after a Collision with an Intoxicated Trucker
Anyone hurt by a negligent truck driver should seek compensation. These collisions cause damage to smaller vehicles and send folks to the hospital in an ambulance. Our truck accident clients struggle to put the pieces back together after a wreck.
Driving while impaired is a crime. You can sue the trucker or make a personal injury claim with their employer. Call our Glens Falls truck driver lawyer as soon as possible for assistance with this process.
There is also a chance you might request punitive damages. These damages are levied as punishment. If the trucking company knew about drug use but did nothing, you should request punitives, which can increase the amount of money you take home. Our lawyers know how to gather evidence to establish the legal basis for them.
What to Do after an Accident
Ideally, we want proof that the trucker is intoxicated or high. We can use your observations as evidence, such as:
- Whether the trucker smelled of alcohol or marijuana when you spoke to them.
- Any unusual behavior, such as slurred speech or appearing stoned.
- Whether the trucker exited the rig holding a beer or a joint.
- Whether drugs or alcohol were found in the cab with the trucker immediately after the accident.
However, even stronger evidence comes in the form of chemical tests administered immediately after a wreck. This is one reason to call the police quickly. An officer can ask a suspicious trucker to participate in field sobriety tests, like standing on one leg or walking in a straight line. The officer might also ask the trucker to take a breathalyzer to find out his blood alcohol concentration.
At Larson & Gallivan Law, we can seek access to the test results. If arrested, the trucker could also give a urine or blood test, which would show the presence of drugs in their system. (The breathalyzer only uncovers alcohol use.) If we obtain the test results, our job of establishing fault is made much easier.
As mentioned above, an employer should also require drug testing after certain accidents. We can request permission to review those results, also.
Contact Us Today
Our firm is ready to help anyone injured in a Glens Falls truck accident seek compensation, including possible punitive damages. To learn more, give us a call at 802 327-8458.