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What to Know About Truck Drivers and Substance Abuse

April 17, 2019 |

Driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs is a crime in Wisconsin. These substances can seriously impact your judgment and ability to drive, leading to devastating accidents. When you bring large vehicles such as trucks into the equation, the consequences can be even more dire. Unfortunately, substance abuse is a prevalent issue among truck drivers across the United States.

Statistics on Truck Drivers and Drug Use

According to American Addiction Centers, the use of drugs among truck drivers is very high around the world and within the United States. High levels of stress, loneliness, and fatigue are common reasons why people turn to substances – and these conditions are present within the working conditions of truck drivers.

The overall use of mind-altering substances, such as alcohol and amphetamines, is high among truck drivers. According to one study appearing in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 50% of truckers drank while on the job and 30% of drivers took amphetamines. These drugs are particularly popular among some truckers, along with cocaine, for their effects. Amphetamines and cocaine help drivers stay awake for long periods, aiding them in their travels. However, these drugs contain dangerous side effects that can lead to accidents, such as hallucinations, dependence, and hypertension.

Alcohol is another popular substance among truck drivers, which threatens the lives of other drivers and truckers alike. According to the study, truckers in the United States have the highest frequency of positive alcohol tests than other truckers around the world. Approximately 12.5% of American truck drivers test positive for alcohol.

Factors That Lead to Substance Abuse Among Truckers

Many different factors can lead to addiction. Truck driving is a stressful and tiring profession, and may contribute to high rates of loneliness and depression. To get the job done, drivers may turn to drugs to stay awake. They may also turn to substances such as alcohol and other depressants to reduce stress and cope with sadness.

In addition, younger drivers are more susceptible to substance abuse than their older counterparts are. Trucking companies often assign these young drivers to longer, more difficult routes, which heightens their stress and fatigue. As a result, many of them turn to amphetamines and cocaine to complete their routes.

Preventative Measures at Trucking Companies

Under the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA), all trucking companies must administer drug tests to all drivers before they allow them to operate a commercial motor vehicle. These tests do not usually look for alcohol, but they look for other popular drugs that may be in a driver’s system. These drugs include amphetamines, opiates, PCP, cocaine, and marijuana.

Truck drivers may also have to take a drug test after they get into an accident. The FMCSA does not require drug testing after an accident unless the accident falls under specific circumstances. The driver must receive a citation for the accident. If someone dies in the accident, the driver must also receive a drug test regardless of a citation. Many trucking companies automatically require drivers involved in an accident to take a drug test for insurance purposes.

What Happens If a Truck Driver Fails a Drug Test?

If a truck driver refuses to take a drug test or tests positive for a prohibited substance, he or she must undergo a return-to-duty process outlined by the Department of Transportation. The driver will need to visit a substance abuse professional to reduce his or her dependence on drugs or alcohol. The driver must also pass a drug test after visiting the substance abuse professional. The driver will also need to undergo six random tests within the next year and test negative for all of them.

Although truck driving is a stressful occupation that can lead to addiction, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is a dangerous crime. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one due to an accident with an intoxicated truck driver, you can claim compensation through a lawsuit or insurance claim. Contact an experienced Wisconsin truck accident attorney as soon as possible to learn about your legal options.


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