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Positive Drug Tests Rise Among Truck Drivers

Semi-trucks are a common sight on major highways like I-16 or I-95. These large vehicles require special training and licenses to drive, and truck drivers must undergo drug testing regularly. Ideally, all drivers would be sober, resulting in negative drug tests, but that is not the case, especially last year.

If you do end up injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler, Harris Lowry Manton LLP will passionately represent you in court so that you are compensated for your pain and suffering. You should not have to pay for hospital bills and treatment that someone else is responsible for. Call our Savannah truck accident lawyers today to learn more.

What does the data show for Georgia truck drivers?

According to FreightWaves, the latest statistics from a report by the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse indicate that drug use among commercial drivers could be at an all-time high. However, more drivers are being cleared to drive again. The report showed that total drug violations reported into the clearinghouse, including positive tests and refusals to take a drug test, increased 18% to 69,668 compared to last year’s 59,011. Much of the increase can be attributed to violations related to marijuana, the substance identified most in positive drug tests. In fact, positive drug tests reported to the clearinghouse in 2022 increased in 12 of 14 substances tracked by the database, with only hydrocodone and heroin showing decreases.

This report suggests that the rise in drug violations may be due to the increase in completed registrations from drivers, employers, and third-party organizations being added each year since the clearinghouse began accepting registrations in September 2019. The number of registrations added annually has steadily declined since 2020 as the database gradually fills with all FMCSA-regulated registrants. Additionally, speculation has been made that increasingly liberal state marijuana laws could be a factor, although federal law preempts state law regarding the use of both medicinal and recreational marijuana by commercial drivers.

However, despite the increase in drug violations, the clearinghouse is working as intended, says P. Sean Garney, co-director of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, which specializes in truck safety, regulations, and compliance. The data shows that there were double the number of positive tests for pre-employment screening versus positive tests taken randomly from drivers last year. It is far more common for a driver to test positive in a pre-employment environment. Before the clearinghouse, carriers had no way to know if a driver they were considering was prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle based on that test. The system is now working, as more drivers are being rehabilitated and reentering the trucking workforce.

Moreover, the report indicates that more drivers are being cleared to drive again. At the end of 2020, only 12.5% of drivers who had tested positive had been cleared to drive again. In 2021 that number increased to 22.7%, and it increased again in 2022 to 27.6%. Starting on January 6, 2023, motor carriers were no longer required to query a driver’s previous employer to request drug and alcohol testing histories, as they are now able to go back three years within the clearinghouse. The clearinghouse is now operating at full tilt and as intended, making it a great source of truth for this information, Garney added. This should make wary carriers feel better about streamlining their procedures by using the clearinghouse.

What are the dangers of drugged truck drivers in Savannah?

Truck drivers have a legal duty to ensure safe driving, which includes refraining from illegal drug use before operating a large commercial truck. While it is illegal for all drivers to use illicit drugs before driving, for a truck driver, driving is a means of employment. Therefore, they must abide by their employer’s regulations and the laws governing commercial vehicle operation; otherwise, their licenses could be revoked.

Trucking companies are obligated to hire qualified, trained, and responsible drivers who can be trusted to transport goods and share the road safely with other drivers. By law, they are required to test drivers for drugs that may impair their driving abilities. If a truck accident occurs due to a driver’s drug impairment, the driver’s employer may also be held accountable.

Injuries from truck accidents include:

  • Back and neck injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Burns
  • Head injuries
  • Internal organ damage
  • Lacerations
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Other catastrophic injuries

Driving under the influence of drugs is considered an illegal and negligent act. If a truck driver causes an accident that results in injuries or fatalities, they can be held liable for the damages suffered by those affected.

If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a truck accident due to drugged driving, we’re here to help you. The Savannah truck accident lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton LLP work diligently to secure full compensation for our clients, including compensation for their daily physical pain, emotional distress, lost wages, and all reasonable medical bills. In appropriate cases, we may even demand punitive damages. Over the years, we have secured millions in settlements and verdicts for those involved in truck accidents. For experienced help now, please call us or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We maintain offices in Savannah and Atlanta.

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