Trucks on the highway may be a necessary danger. They transport the goods you and other consumers need, and they keep the American economy sound. Truck drivers have a difficult job. They often get little respect on the road, they spend a great deal of time away from their families, and their work is long and tedious. Nevertheless, this does not provide an excuse for using illegal substances to relieve boredom, stress or fatigue.
You may be shocked to learn that this may be much more common than most drivers realize. Nevertheless, a recent report to Congress shows that thousands of truckers may be under the influence of illegal drugs while they are behind the wheel. If you have suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an accident involving a truck, you may have many questions about the condition of the driver at the time.
Inadequate drug testing
The Alliance for Driver Safety and Security revealed that their investigations suggest habitual drug users are obtaining jobs as truck drivers because of the inadequate methods the U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes to test for drugs. Currently, USDOT allows only urine tests during pre-screenings for truck driver applicants. Many safety agencies have been pushing for more accurate tests, such as hair analysis, but these have not received approval. This may be allowing thousands of drug users behind the wheels of big rigs.
The Trucking Alliance asked over 150,000 applicants for trucking jobs to submit to both a urine test and a hair analysis. The results were startling:
- Almost 9,000 drivers failed the hair analysis or refused to take it.
- Only 949 of the same drivers failed the urine test, the only test currently required by the federal government.
- Ninety percent of those who failed the hair analysis passed the urine test.
- The urine test missed such drugs as cocaine, marijuana and opioids.
- When researchers project their findings to the larger population of truckers, they estimate that over 300,000 drivers are likely using illegal drugs while employed by the trucking industry.
While the advocates for safer highways hope to prompt Congress to speed up laws requiring more accurate drug testing for truck drivers, you may feel it is too little too late. If you are struggling to put your life back together after a devastating accident involving a large commercial vehicle, you may find answers and advice by speaking with a compassionate Texas attorney.