Drugs and alcohol can significantly increase the likelihood of a truck accident. Truck drivers must undergo special training to operate a commercial vehicle. When they get their commercial driver’s license, they have certain responsibilities. One is not to drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Commercial trucks are often involved in thousands of collisions annually. Operating a motor vehicle under the influence can lead to collisions and can result in criminal charges. Speak to Cesar Ornelas Injury Law to discuss your legal options.
How often do impaired truckers cause collisions?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers with a CDL cause over 400,000 collisions yearly. These truck accidents cause over 4,800 fatalities nationwide. Additionally, 5% of all fatal truck accidents involve substance use.
Alcohol abuse among truckers
Truck drivers have many regulations to follow, especially regarding drugs or alcohol. Alcohol is legal if you are over 21, meaning it is easily accessible. While on the road, truckers can find alcohol at rest stops, gas stations, and grocery stores. Truckers cannot have alcohol in their cabs or drink within four hours of their shift. Alcohol can impact a person’s vision, reaction times, and coordination. Truckers can lose their commercial driver’s licenses. They can also risk hurting or killing innocent people. They can also suffer injuries.
Trucker drug abuse
Truckers might be under extreme pressure. One way they try to push the limits and meet strict deadlines is to use drugs. They believe they will get an extra boost from using drugs. When they make deliveries faster, that can lead to more routes which also equals more money.
Sometimes they can find drugs at rest stops. While any truck driver has the potential to use drugs, it is most prevalent among younger truckers. Another unique finding is that truckers who use illegal drugs tend to have been in a significant accident or gotten a traffic ticket previously. Truckers have 30 days to inform employers of any new tickets they receive.
Truckers who use drugs often go into a downward spiral of addiction and abuse. Truckers usually use stimulant drugs to stay awake and drive longer. Then they need other drugs to fall asleep or prevent a hangover in the morning. This begins a cycle of substance abuse and addiction. It can reach a point where the trucker cannot function without drugs.
Commonly used drugs among truck drivers
Since drug tests on truck drivers are semi-public, research has found the top drugs that truckers use. After analyzing many drug test results, the top three drugs that truckers use include:
- Marijuana: This is becoming a drug of choice, especially after legalization to some degree in many states. While it can be legal to some degree, that does not mean it is safe to drive under the influence. Marijuana can impact a person’s driving, cognitive function, and reaction times. It can cause people to feel drowsy and has similar effects to alcohol.
- Cocaine: This drug is illegal but has not detracted from its popularity. It is very popular because it is a stimulant that can increase energy. It can also cause the user to become erratic and impact a person’s thought processes.
- Amphetamines: another drug that helps many truckers stay awake longer is amphetamines. This drug is especially dangerous because it can cause hallucinations and vertigo. It can also slow down reaction times.
While these are truckers’ most commonly used drugs, they are not the only ones. There are many drugs out there that people can get their hands on. They all have different effects. Prescription drug use is also a problem, but it is not addressed as often because it is legal. When a drugged trucker causes a collision, you must speak to Cesar Ornelas Injury Law.
Laws that apply to truck drivers and substance use
Various state and federal laws regulate truck drivers. The most significant rule that applies to truckers is their threshold for intoxication or impairment. Commercial truckers have lower limits than noncommercial drivers. Commercial truck drivers are considered intoxicated when they have a 0.04% BAC when the limit is 0.08% for noncommercial drivers. Other federal laws that involve drug and alcohol use for truckers include:
- Assign a person to manage a drug and alcohol program
- Obtain the required signed permission and release forms
- Keep track of which employees submit to drug or alcohol testing
- Train supervisors overseeing drivers on how to administer tests
- Establish a company drug and alcohol policy
- Know processes if a trucker fails an alcohol or drug test
Drinking off the clock
Truckers are regular people with some of the same rights as others when off the clock. Truckers can use alcohol when they are not at work. However, they cannot drink four hours before a shift. Drivers drink to take the edge off, as do many people nationwide. However, when they choose to operate a truck while drunk, they are endangering themselves and the public.
Truckers and substance tests
Under federal law, truckers should be regularly and randomly tested for drug or alcohol impairment every 12 months. If a truck driver is involved in a collision, they will also undergo substance use testing. Another time truckers can be tested is if there is a reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired. Commercial truck drivers have other regulations for substance testing. It has been reported that 12% of tested commercial truckers return positive for alcohol. Unfortunately, only 1% of random tests are positive for drugs or alcohol.
Signs a truck driver is impaired
Truck drivers have challenging jobs. They are on the road for long periods in isolation. This can lead to loneliness, depression, or other concerns. Some truckers will look to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, using substances as a coping mechanism can lead to addiction and collisions. When on the road, some signs that can imply a trucker is impaired are:
- Swerving in and out of traffic
- Drifting from their lane
- Driving on the shoulder
- Erratic braking
- Driving too slow
- Ignoring traffic lights or stop signs
- Straddling the center lane
These are signs that a diver might be under the influence, but the only way to know for sure is with a chemical test. Drivers should stay alert and avoid any trucks they see participating in these actions. You should inform your truck accident attorney if you notice these signs. Cesar Ornelas Injury Law will use these signs as evidence in your accident claim.
Liability for 18-wheeler collisions
Many differences exist between truck accidents and other vehicle collisions. One of those significant differences is who is liable for the crash. The trucking company might be responsible if they knowingly employ a driver with substance abuse problems. The circumstances surrounding your claim will impact which of the following parties is responsible for the crash:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
In other truck accidents, other parties can bear legal responsibilities. Mechanics, cargo loading companies, truck manufacturers, and others can also be responsible. However, the truck driver or trucking company is usually legally liable when a trucker is impaired. A truck accident attorney in the Odessa area can help sift through these complex liability issues.
Proving drunk driving in a truck accident
Our truck crash lawyers have experience handling truck accident claims. We will pursue maximum compensation by gathering evidence that supports your case. Some critical evidence that we will seek includes:
- Photos and videos of the accident or the aftermath
- The accident report
- Eyewitnesses statements
- Medical or legal records indicating intoxication or impairment
- Employment records
- Black box data from the truck
- Surveillance from nearby businesses or traffic cameras
- Driver logs
- Statements from you and the trucker
Drug tests that truckers undergo will check for marijuana, cocaine, PCP, opiates, and amphetamines. These tests will be vital evidence for your case. A truck crash attorney will request these test results immediately.
Possible compensation for truck accidents
After a truck accident in Odessa, you deserve to be financially compensated for your losses. These losses include current and future expenses you incur from the collision. Our truck accident lawyers will pursue compensation such as:
- Medical care relevant to the truck accident
- Cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle
- Income during the time you were off getting treatment for your injuries
- Future lost income if you cannot return to work
- Pain and suffering
An individual case assessment is necessary to determine which of these or other losses apply to you. Cesar Ornalas Injury Law has the resources to evaluate and calculate case worth. Call us for a case review today.
Speak to an Odessa truck collision lawyer
The truck accident attorneys from Cesar Ornelas Injury Law will pursue compensation and justice for our clients in Odessa. We will review the evidence and help you through this challenging time. You can trust our firm if you are in a truck accident or lose a loved one from a drugged or drunk driver. Call the office of Cesar Ornelas Injury Law to schedule an initial consultation today.
Originally from Kyle, Texas, Mr. Ornelas is a first-generation college graduate and a first-generation attorney.
Licensed in Texas, Cesar Ornelas’s nationwide practice is entirely contingency fee-based and consists of a wide variety of catastrophic personal injury and death cases. He has represented countless victims of catastrophic accidents across the United States.