Athens, TXPersonal Injury Lawyer

Preventing Truck Accidents: Drug Testing Truckers is Critical

Tractor-trailer speeding down a highway at dusk with motion blur.

Impaired truckers put everyone on the road at risk of severe injury and death.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has rejected a petition from the Trucking Alliance to recognize hair samples as a method for drug testing truckers. FMCSA stated that it lacks the authority to do so as current federal regulations require truckers to be tested for drugs through urinalysis only, according to an article by Safety+Health magazine.

The Trucking Alliance had requested that FMCSA amend its definition of "actual knowledge" of a positive drug test to include hair tests. Hair sample drug testing is often considered more effective than urine testing in detecting drug use because hair samples can show a longer history of drug use. Hair grows at an average rate of 0.5 inches per month, so a 1.5-inch hair sample can provide a three-month history of drug use. Hair also traps drug molecules that are ingested and retains them, making them detectable for longer periods of time than with urine samples.

Semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and other commercial big rigs require a lot of skill to operate, and the truck driver's margin for error is small. Trucker impairment, whether it's caused by drugs, alcohol, or other factors, poses a significant threat to everyone on the road.

Substance abuse among truckers can stem from various sources, including stress, exhaustion, long working hours, unrealistic delivery schedules, or even personal struggles. Nonetheless, the decision to drive while under the influence can result in a catastrophic truck accident, which highlights the importance of regular and effective drug testing.

How often are truckers tested for drug and alcohol use?

The use of drugs and alcohol while operating a commercial truck is strictly prohibited and considered a serious threat to public safety. The FMCSA sets the legal limit for truck drivers at a blood alcohol content of 0.04%, lower than the limit for all other drivers over 21, which is set at 0.08%. It is also against the law for truckers to carry or consume alcohol within 4 hours of driving a commercial vehicle.

To ensure compliance with these regulations, truck drivers must undergo mandatory drug and alcohol testing as a condition of their employment. The FMCSA requires drivers to undergo random testing, as well as pre-employment and post-accident testing. Refusal to take a test can result in disqualification from driving a commercial vehicle.

In addition to testing, the FMCSA also requires truck drivers to attend safety seminars and classes aimed at educating them on the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and how to handle such situations.

Employers are also held responsible for conducting drug and alcohol tests on new hires and may face fines for failing to do so. These measures are in place to protect not only the truckers but also the public they share the roads with.

How common is drug and alcohol use in the trucking industry?

Drug and alcohol abuse is a persistent problem among truck drivers in the U.S. The FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse reveals that thousands of truck drivers test positive for drugs or alcohol annually. Of these positive tests, marijuana is the drug most commonly detected. It's important to note that even in states where marijuana is legalized for recreational use, it remains illegal to operate a vehicle while under its influence.

Other substances that commercial truck drivers often test positive for include:

  • Amphetamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Oxymorphone
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone

Remember, drugs can impair reflexes and coordination, making it difficult for truckers to safely operate large and heavy commercial vehicles. To mitigate this risk, trucking companies must implement strict policies to prevent their drivers from operating a truck while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Education is also key in preventing impaired driving among truckers. Truckers should be made aware of the dangers and potential legal consequences of driving under the influence.

How to prove a trucker's impairment caused an accident

Establishing the role of drugs or alcohol in a truck accident can be a complex task, requiring a comprehensive investigation. Despite any apparent signs of impairment, such as erratic driving behavior or the presence of drug-related items in the truck's cab, proving a direct link between substance use and the accident may be challenging.

The mandatory drug and alcohol tests that truckers are required to take after an accident can provide valuable evidence in this regard. Eyewitness accounts of any signs of intoxication observed before, during, or after the crash may also help to establish a connection. Furthermore, a trucker's driving history can reveal prior incidents involving substance abuse or reckless behavior, as well as any knowledge or awareness of these issues on the part of the trucking company.

Injured in an East Texas truck accident? Weinstein Law is here to help.

If you were injured or a loved one died in a truck accident involving an impaired truck driver, experienced legal representation can make a meaningful difference in the outcome of your case.  At Weinstein Law, we have the knowledge and experience to investigate the cause of the accident, build a strong case based on facts, and pursue maximum compensation for damages. We understand the importance of holding both truckers and trucking companies accountable for any negligence, and we will leave no stone unturned to achieve that outcome.

In Henderson County, Jeff Weinstein has established himself as a tenacious advocate for truck accident victims and their families. With over two decades of experience, Jeff is not intimidated by the deep pockets and powerful legal teams of large trucking companies. Instead, he concentrates on crafting compelling cases that demand attention and respect.

To see how an experienced truck accident attorney can help you, contact us today to review your legal rights and options. Our office is located in Athens, TX, and we proudly represent accident victims throughout Henderson County and East Texas. Schedule your free consultation today.

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