The Opioid Crisis and Trucking Accidents
Truck driving is a dangerous enough profession. It requires special training to operate a massive vehicle while surrounded by other drivers and passengers. Because of the effort it takes to steer and smoothly operate an 18-wheeler, it is imperative that every truck driver stay fully alert out on the road.
The opioid crisis in America, however, threatens to make this situation worse. An increasing number of truck drivers are succumbing to opioid addiction, resulting in impaired judgement while driving. Like many victims of the opioid crisis, truck drivers may first be exposed to opiates by taking legal prescription drugs, leading on to a dangerous addiction when the pain won’t cease. Truck drivers may be especially susceptible to opioid addiction, since truck driving is a demanding and stressful job with a large amount of responsibility.
In addition to opiates, some truck drivers have also been found to abuse alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and other stimulants. A lot is demanded of truck drivers, who must often make long-distance trips. Truck drivers turn to certain types of drugs to stay alert and lower the stress of operating their vehicles over a period of hours or even days. But they shouldn’t. Because they crash – metaphorically, and literally. And the people in the other cars are the ones who pay the price.
What Tests and Regulations Are There?
While trucking companies must run several tests and background checks before hiring a driver and allowing him behind the wheel of an 80,000-lb vehicle, they are part of an insufficient process. Truck drivers must disclose to their potential employer if they have any prior arrests, whether it is a drug offense or not, but there is often a lack of compliance during the hiring process.
Truck drivers must also pass drug tests as part of the screening process. There are, however, several issues that make this a flawed system. The drug-screening process is often handled by more than one organization, which allows for more errors and inconsistencies on each candidate.
Truck drivers should be screened for substance abuse at the following times:
- Pre-employment. Prior to being hired as a truck driver, the company may require that the candidate pass a drug test before being issued a commercial drivers’ license (CDL) and taking a vehicle out on the road.
- Random drug testing. After the trucker has received his commercial drivers’ license and been hired, the company may request regular unscheduled drug tests. These randomized tests may occur when a truck driver is on or off-duty.
- After an accident. Commercial truck drivers are required by law to be tested for drug or alcohol content after they are involved in a fatal accident. They may also be subject to testing in the event of an accident resulting in injury or vehicular damage.
Federal Law for Drug Screenings
Drug testing is not only required by trucking companies, but is mandatory under federal law. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), it is required by 49 CFR Part 40 that truck drivers be screened for:
- Alcohol concentration of 0.02%
- PCP (phencyclidine)
- Methamphetamines and Amphetamines
In the event that a candidate does not pass or refuses to take the drug test, he or she must be removed from all duties in which safety would be of concern. They could only be hired or rehired after receiving approval from a specific board.
Filing a Claim After a Truck Accident
If you or a family member has been injured due to the negligence of a truck driver, you may be entitled to compensation. If a truck driver was found to be intoxicated at the time of the crash, then he and his company should be held accountable to the victims.
But no matter who is clearly at fault, the trucking insurance company will try and pay the lowest amount possible. You may be faced with medical bills, lost wages, and other financial burdens. Don’t give up. Our Dallas trucking accident attorneys at The Lenahan Law Firm will negotiate on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today at (214) 295-1008 for a free consultation.