Drugged Driving and Truck Accidents

by Paula A. Wyatt | February 4, 2024 | Blog, Truck Accidents | 0 comments

Drugged Driving and Truck Accidents

Large trucks that drive on the highway are already dangerous, but when you add any type of illegal drug into the mix, the risk of danger increases.

The trucking industry is essential to our everyday lives as these large vehicles transport the products, items, and goods consumers worldwide need.

Semi-trucks also help boost our economy in many ways you have probably never considered. However, this does not take away the fact that not only are truckers’ jobs difficult, but the respect they receive while on the road is little to none.

This can create added stress to their lives on top of the loneliness they feel away from their families and loved ones, the pressures they experience to complete their daily duties on time, and the long number of hours they spend sitting in the same position.

All these factors play a big role in the mental health issues that truckers and commercial vehicle drivers often experience. Still, they are not excuses for turning to illegal drugs and substances that will lead them to be intoxicated while behind the wheel.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a truck accident involving a drugged truck driver, you can file a claim for full and fair compensation. Contact an experienced truck accident attorney today for a free consultation to talk about your impaired truck driver case.

How Common is Drugged Driving among Truck Drivers?

You may be surprised to learn that commercial truck drivers often consume illegal substances while on the road. This is much more common than people think. While completing tedious work repeatedly, drivers become bored, tired, and stressed, which leads them to use illegal drugs.

According to the American Addiction Centers, nearly 30 percent of truck drivers said they consumed drugs in a self-reported study. Most of the respondents admitted to using amphetamines, which are prescription drugs used illegally to keep individuals awake.

Since truck drivers are required to drive for long stretches and stay awake during different times of the day, truck drivers prefer to take amphetamines or cocaine because these drugs are known to help you stay awake. Alcohol is also a common consumption among truck drivers as they have one of the highest numbers of positive alcohol tests across the country.

While the preferred choice of drugs is amphetamines and cocaine, truck drivers also abuse other substances such as heroin, opioids, and methamphetamines. Other than staying awake behind the wheel, depression, loneliness, and stress are a few other factors that contribute to drug use among truckers.

Reports indicate over 30,000 drug and alcohol violations in the trucking industry in a recent year. In only one month that year, there were nearly 5,000 drug violations and almost 100 alcohol violations. Therefore, positive drug tests made up 81 percent of the violations. These numbers may be shocking, but they should not be a complete surprise when you think about the ever-changing and increasing demands placed on truck drivers today.

Although positive drug tests happen among many truck drivers, drug use was more common in young, inexperienced individuals with longer driving routes who often had to drive at night. This may make sense because many companies give better routes to drivers who have been there the longest, while the new hires must take what is left over. These new drivers, therefore, seek ways to stay awake and might turn to illegal drug use.

Negative Side Effects that Illegal Drugs Have on Truck Drivers

The side effects of illegal drug abuse may vary from person to person. However, most people report having similar side effects when taking similar drugs.

Illegal drugs may have the following negative side effects on truck drivers.

  • Marijuana: Moody behavior, problems with memory, unable to think clearly or solve problems, psychosis, and delusional
  • Amphetamine: Blood pressure issues, no appetite, obsessing, problems sleeping, nosebleeds, grinding of the teeth, and apprehension
  • Cocaine: Elevated body temperature, blood pressure issues, increased heart rate, muscle twitching, unable to relax or sleep, tremors, and unpredictable behaviors
  • Oxymorphone: Dryness of the mouth, heart issues, fainting or passing out, seizures, hallucinations, anxiety, and confusing thoughts
  • Methamphetamine: Paranoid thoughts, inability to sleep, moody behaviors, reduced motor speed, and speaking issues

While truck drivers commonly report using the above substances, most commercial motor vehicle drivers seek energy boosters, making cocaine, methamphetamines, and amphetamines popular choices among truckers.

These drugs help them get through the long tiring hours, but this does not change the fact that they greatly affect the driver’s ability to drive safely, which can lead to extremely dangerous wrecks and fatal crashes.

Catastrophic Injuries From Drugged Truck Accidents

Drugged Driving and Truck Accidents

When you see a big rig swerving, crossing the lines on the roads, or missing traffic signs, these may indicate that the driver is intoxicated.

Unfortunately, these instances often occur on highways where other vehicles are nearby.

This is alarming because truckers not only put their own lives at risk whenever they decide to take drugs, but they also put every other vehicle around them in great danger.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stated that more than 70 percent of truck accident fatalities were the people in the vehicles driving near the 18-wheelers.

If the individuals were lucky enough to leave the accident with injuries, they most likely experienced catastrophic injuries, which are severe injuries that may lead to life-long disabilities.

The following are a few of the most common catastrophic injuries that individuals may leave a truck accident with.

  • Amputations and loss of limbs
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Brain or head injuries
  • Organ damage
  • Severe burns

While these injuries sound very harsh, it is possible to die from a truck accident. If this is the case, their family, children, and loved ones can file a wrongful death lawsuit to ensure that they receive compensation to give a proper funeral as well as provide money to live on since the individual no longer can.

Why Truck Drivers May Use Illegal Drugs

A truck driver is known to live a very solitary life. They drive many miles per day, spend several days at a time away from their family, and fight off boredom and fatigue often.

While everyone else sees truck driving as a regular profession, these individuals have a rough life that often leads to medical problems in the future from constantly sitting.

The National Library of Medicine published a study showing that 44 percent of truck drivers reported being depressed. The factors that led to the depression were broken sleep, psychiatric medications, and stress from work. This led truck drivers to use drugs and alcohol to help them cope with their everyday struggles.

Are Truck Drivers Tested for Drugs?

The FMCSA requires that all individuals with a commercial driver’s license (CDL), who drive trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds, agree to be routinely tested for drugs and alcohol.

Below are the five different classes of drugs that are common in the test results:

  • Opioids
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Phencyclidine
  • Amphetamines and Methamphetamines

All truck drivers are tested for drugs before truck companies hire them. After the individual gets hired, they will undergo testing if an accident involves an injury, damage to property, vehicle, or fatality.

Truckers may also undergo random drug tests. Around 50 percent of truck driving industry individuals are randomly tested yearly.

This usually occurs due to suspicion that someone may abuse drugs or alcohol while driving. Urine samples are typically the preferred method for drug testing.

Some trucking companies commonly use hair samples because these substance abuse tests show signs of drugs over the last 90 days.

How to Know if a Truck Driver Who Hit You Was on Drugs

You might not know if a commercial truck driver who hit you was, in fact, on drugs at the time. However, the police should show up and investigate to determine whose fault the accident is and perform a drug test and an alcohol test.

They will likely make a police report, which you can use to defend your claim.

A truck accident lawyer dedicated to you and your case will do everything in their power to ensure that all the evidence is presented, showing that the responsible party was intoxicated when they hit you.

Here are a few important steps the experienced attorney will take:

  • Request the results of the truck driver’s drug test
  • Look at the medical records
  • Ask to view blood test results
  • Analyze all witness statements and video camera footage
  • Evaluate the truck driver’s statement
  • Determine if the accident was due to drunk driving

There are various routes that a legal professional will take to determine if a driver was on drugs when an accident occurred. Gaps and discrepancies are bound to appear, and a skilled lawyer can find them.

Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident

Determining who is liable when a truck accident occurs may be difficult. However, when a trucker is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and evidence proves this fact, it becomes clear that they are liable.

When the truck driver decided to get behind the wheel after taking a drug that may impair their senses or judgment, they knew they were putting others at risk.

This means that they breached their duty of care, and by doing so, the auto accident and the injuries occurred.

While drugged driving will primarily be the truck driver’s fault, the company can also be accountable because it employed the driver.

As a result, the company may be negligent in its hiring process or in ensuring that its truck drivers drive safely around others and not get involved in drug-related accidents.

How Much Compensation Can You Receive After Experiencing a Truck Accident Caused by an Impaired Trucker?

While every truck accident is unique and has its own set of circumstances to investigate, there are a few common losses that you can claim. These may include financial losses and non-financial losses.

Financial Losses

Financial losses in a truck accident claim include medical expenses, loss of earnings, loss of property, repairs or replacements, new and essential services, home modifications, physical therapy, surgeries, occupational therapy, counseling, and more.

Non-financial Losses

You can recover compensation for intangible losses in a truck accident claim for pain, suffering, emotional and mental distress, loss of companionship, loss of enjoyment of life, inconveniences, and more.

When you think about what type of losses came from your accident, you can think of any burdens or hardships that have now been placed on your life since the accident occurred.

These can include things money can and cannot buy, which will help you determine if they are financial or non-financial losses.

As with any type of accident, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced truck accident attorney about your case.

Holding Drivers of Drugged Trucking Accidents Accountable

Lawyers of Distinction Award

All truck drivers owe the people around them a safe environment when on the road.

A truck accident lawyer with extensive experience will work diligently to ensure that a truck driver who willingly puts others in danger is held accountable for their negligent behavior.

Truck accidents caused by drug abuse or alcohol abuse are 100 percent avoidable, and they should pay for the damage, pain, and suffering they have caused you and your family.

If an intoxicated truck driver caused your accident, you deserve to receive full compensation for your injuries, property damage, and trauma.

Whether you need money to pay your bills, take time to recover, or move forward with your life after the accident, you will need to thoroughly investigate your truck accident claim.

A large truck injury lawyer will take the time to collect drug and alcohol tests, look at police reports, analyze the video footage from your accident, and represent you until they attain the best possible outcome.

Consult with a Truck Accident Attorney About Your Options

The process may seem difficult and take several months, but making sure you hold the irresponsible party accountable for their behaviors will be worth it.

To ensure that all the legal steps go smoothly, you should consider hiring an attorney knowledgeable in Texas law to stand behind you and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Begin the recovery process by contacting an experienced personal injury attorney near you about your case.


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