The potential for accidents with dire consequences looms large when sharing Savannah roads with semi-trucks. Among the myriad factors contributing to these accidents, drug and alcohol use among truck drivers is a prominent concern.
Truck drivers grapple with a multitude of challenges, as highlighted in research by the American Addiction Centers (AAC). This study reveals a concerning trend, with 44% of long-haul truckers reporting depressive symptoms in the past year. These symptoms are often linked to work-related stress and disrupted sleep patterns. For many, the use of psychiatric medications while on the road is necessary. Unfortunately, some drivers turn to illicit substances to cope with these challenges, breaching their duty of care to surrounding drivers and jeopardizing general road safety.
Is drugged driving on the rise in the trucking industry?
Disturbingly, yes. Freightwaves.com compiled a report using 2022 data from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (DAC), which points to a concerning trend in drug use among commercial drivers. With over three million drivers and more than 443,000 employers registered, the total drug violations reported into the DAC for 2022 saw an 18% surge, reaching 69,668 cases, compared to the previous year’s 59,011, as per the latest statistics released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This increase nearly doubled the 9.2% annual rise in drug violations reported in 2021.
Moreover, the data also indicates a growing number of drivers undergoing rehabilitation and rejoining the trucking workforce. At the close of 2020, only 12.5% of drivers who had tested positive had regained clearance to resume driving. In 2021, this figure climbed to 22.7%, and in 2022, it further rose to 27.6%.
Is marijuana usage allowed for truck drivers?
No, marijuana is federally illegal. This accounts for a large percentage of the recent increase in failed drug tests, with the DAC citing, “Marijuana violations increased 31.6% in 2022” among truck drivers.
While the primary objective of testing is to prevent impaired driving, the extended detection window for marijuana, lasting 30 to 90 days in the system, poses a dilemma for drivers who may want to partake during their off-duty hours in the 18 states permitting recreational marijuana and 37 allowing medical use.
However, testing does not see this nuance. When a driver tests positive for any drug, even thirty to ninety day detectable marijuana, following an accident, this serves as valuable evidence against the trucker and/or the trucking company in a Savannah truck accident injury lawsuit.
Are there any solutions for this growing drug problem in the trucking industry?
Yes and no. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has introduced regulations designed to make the trucking lifestyle less stressful, including limits on daily and weekly working hours. However, the job remains highly demanding with strict deadlines that have wide reaching effects on supply chains that help us maintain our American consumer lifestyle.
While solutions are being attempted by the FMCSA, and regulations hold trucking companies accountable for overstressing their drivers, stress, fatigue, and unhealthy lifestyle choices are common for truckers in Savannah and around the country. From the isolating nature of their profession to the scarcity of restorative sleep, poor dietary habits, and limited opportunities for exercise, the role of a long-haul truck driver exacts a toll on both mental and physical well-being, pushing many into substance use.
How can I keep myself safe when sharing the road with truck drivers?
Ensuring the safety of yourself and your family on the road, especially in Savannah, requires a proactive approach. Understanding and adhering to road rules, while being aware of the unique challenges faced by truck drivers, can significantly reduce accident risks.
- Mind the blind spots: Trucks have extensive blind spots, so it’s crucial to avoid lingering in these areas. A simple rule is to check the truck driver’s side-view mirror. If you see their eyes, they can see you. Pass safely on the left and avoid passing on the right, as it’s almost entirely a blind spot.
- Maintain safe distances: Keeping a safe distance between your vehicle and a truck is essential. Remember the front-end blind spot, especially after passing. Trucks need more braking distance, so maintaining space allows for better reaction to unexpected situations.
- Understand truck behavior on inclines/declines: Be extra cautious when trucks approach steep inclines or descents. They may accelerate before climbs to maintain momentum, and their descent can be powerful. Respect their front-end blind spot in these situations.
By sharing the road responsibly with trucks, we collectively enhance road safety. However, when dealing with impaired truck drivers, accidents may be unavoidable. These accidents can have tragic outcomes and all guilty parties should be held fully accountable for their part in the causation.
The trucking industry is the lifeblood of the American lifestyle. It ensures the timely delivery of goods, from groceries to medications to electronics, that people rely on daily. Without it, store shelves would go empty, manufacturing would grind to a halt, and online shopping would be impossible. The industry also supports countless jobs, providing livelihoods for three million drivers.
However, a high level of responsibility falls on the shoulders of these truck drivers, as they maneuver their mammoth vehicles from Savannah across our country. Every driver has a duty of care to obey traffic laws to help make our roads a safer place. Truckers have this same duty of care to other road users.
If you or a family member has suffered injuries in a collision with a drugged truck driver, consult Harris Lowry Manton LLP, the trusted personal injury attorneys in Savannah, to fight for your rights and justice. Check our truck accident settlements to see how we have proudly served our Savannah neighbors through difficult times after their accident. Call or contact us today at our convenient Savannah or Atlanta locations and let us begin fighting for you and your family after your accident.
One of the nation’s top trial attorneys, Jeff Harris is an award-winning litigator who handles high-profile, complex cases across a wide variety of practice areas. He excels at securing justice for clients who have been seriously injured or killed, holding responsible parties accountable for their actions as well as their negligence.
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