The Impact of Driver Drug Use on Truck Accidents

There is no better way to judge the impact of driver drug use on truck accidents and the trucking industry overall than to turn to the industry’s governing agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA. The FMCSA regulates and provides safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles across the United States. 

It is the FMCSA’s mission to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. As part of this mission, the FMCSA maintains an online database that contains information about holders of commercial driver’s licenses and commercial learner’s permits who are covered by their drug and alcohol testing program

The Impact of Driver Drug Use on Truck Accidents

Disturbing Statistics from the FMCSA’s Online Drug & Alcohol Database

The FMCSA’s online drug and alcohol database reports reveal that:

  • Since January 2020, there were over 105,000 drug violations among holders of commercial driver’s licenses and learner’s permits;
  • Since January 2020, there were nearly 2,500 alcohol violations among holders of commercial driver’s licenses and learner’s permits;
  • Nearly 59,000 of the positive drug results were for marijuana; and
  • Since August 2021, there are notable increases in all top drug use categories.

These are scary statistics because approximately 35% of fatal truck accidents are due to drug use, according to the National Transportation Safety Board or NTSB.

The Side Effects of Drug Use

Drivers may use drugs out of boredom, to self-medicate, to stay awake, or to stay on schedule. Regardless of the reason for drug use, taking drugs comes with side effects.

The following drug-related side effects may lead to truck accidents:

  • Drowsiness;
  • Reduced decision-making ability;
  • Distracted driving;
  • Slow reaction times;
  • Problems with coordination;
  • Anxiety;
  • Dizziness; and
  • Problems with coordination.

The above side effects are also common with some legal drugs. 

When Can a Truck Driver Legally Use a Drug or Medication?

Truck drivers may sometimes need medications or over-the-counter drugs to maintain their health and treat common ailments. However, legal drugs also have side effects that may impair driving ability when used alone or in combination with other medications.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration can disqualify a driver for taking legal drugs when:

  • The drug is a controlled substance or prescription drug unless it is prescribed by a licensed practitioner;
  • The drug is an opiate, opium derivative, depressant, stimulant, amphetamine, narcotic, or any other habit-forming drug;
  • The drug is taken to prevent seizures; or
  • The drug is methadone.

A driver may qualify for an exception with a written doctor statement of safety and medical examiner approval. 

Contact an Experienced Wisconsin Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one suffered severe truck accident injuries and you are unsure if drugs were the cause, contact the attorneys at Mingo & Yankala. An experienced truck accident attorney will review your situation and advise you of any available legal action. We can also tell you whether you qualify for injury compensation.

Mingo & Yankala is an award-winning personal injury firm that represents accident victims throughout the greater Milwaukee area and throughout the entire State of Wisconsin. Contact our firm now to schedule your risk-free consultation.