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Truck Drivers and Drug Use

By Marc A. Johnston, posted in Truck Accidents on August 20, 2019

Driving a truck is a difficult task. It takes extensive training and complex driving skills to operate 18-wheelers, semi trucks, and other big rigs on major interstates, highways, and local roads safety. Along with driving demands, truckers are also required to deal with hard physical labor, long shifts, and extended periods of time away from home. To deal with the pressures of the job, some resort to the use of drugs, which increases the risks for truck accidents and injuries. The following highlights how common this problem is and how drug use is likely to impair a trucker’s driving ability.  

Why Truck Drivers Turn to Drugs

At any gas station or truck stop, you are likely to notice displays of over-the-counter stimulants located near or directly at the cash register. They are often targeted to truck drivers and in particular those on long haul trips. 

Drug use among truckers is a common problem. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), drugs that drivers are most likely to turn to include marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines. Among the most common reasons truckers use over-the-counter stimulants and illegal substances include: 

  • To deal with the loneliness and pressure of being on the road;
  • To help them stay focused during long haul trips;
  • To keep them awake when driving at night;
  • To allow them to work extended shifts without breaks or days off;
  • To provide the energy needed for unloading cargo once they reach their destination. 

In addition to drugs, the NIH reports that the use of alcohol behind the wheel is a common problem for some truck drivers as well. Because alcohol is a depressant, truckers may drink to relax and escape their problems, as a form of pain relief, or to help them sleep when staying overnight at roadsides and other locations far from home. 

Impaired Driving and Truck Accidents

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 4,000 people lose their lives in truck accidents each year while tens of thousands of others suffer serious and potentially life threatening injuries. As the large size and bulk of most 18 wheelers and other large trucks serve to protect the driver, it is often other motorists involved who tend to suffer the most severe injuries. 

Impaired driving is a common factor in these accidents. Being impaired can impact truck drivers in any of the following ways: 

  • Impairs judgment, increasing the risk of speeding and going too fast for conditions;
  • Makes them more likely to get agitated with others, increasing the likelihood of tailgating and other aggressive driving behaviors;
  • Dulls reflexes, making them less able to respond to sudden changes in traffic or other unexpected events;
  • Impairs brain functioning, causing them to be more easily distracted.  

Contact Us Today for Help

At the Johnston Law Firm, we provide aggressive legal representation to protect your rights in seeking compensation when truck accidents and injuries occur. To find out how we can assist you, call (503) 546-3167 or contact our Portland truck accident attorneys online and request a consultation today.    

Marc Johnston
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