Personal Injury

Why Drug Testing Truckers is Critical to Prevent Truck Accidents

A tractor-trailer speeding down a wet highway with motion blur.

Impaired truckers pose a serious risk to all road users.

Drug and alcohol abuse is an ongoing problem for commercial truck drivers in the United States. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a problem for any motorist, but the risks associated with substance abuse among truck drivers are magnified due to their responsibility for operating large commercial trucks that, when fully loaded, can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.

The danger associated with truck accidents cannot be understated. For example, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were approximately 4,000 fatal truck crashes nationwide in one recent year. This illustrates just how important it is for truckers to avoid reckless driving habits, including impaired driving. Drug testing is a critical safety measure to prevent potentially deadly truck wrecks.

Do truckers get randomly drug tested?

The FMCSA prohibits truck drivers from using drugs or alcohol while operating commercial vehicles. With a legal limit of 0.04% for a truck driver's blood alcohol content, which is half the limit for other drivers, and a ban on carrying or consuming alcohol within 4 hours of driving, the FMCSA requires mandatory drug and alcohol testing to ensure compliance.

Random testing, pre-employment testing, and post-accident testing are mandatory for all truck drivers as a condition of their employment. Refusal to take a test can result in disqualification from driving a commercial vehicle. The FMCSA also mandates truck drivers to attend safety seminars and classes to reinforce the dangers of substance abuse while driving. Trucking companies, too, are responsible for conducting drug and alcohol tests on new hires. Failure to do so may result in fines and liability for the employer.

Recently, the Trucking Alliance, an industry group, requested that the FMCSA recognize hair sample drug tests as an alternative to urine tests for truck drivers. According to the Alliance, “public safety is improved through the use of hair testing because drug use is more accurately detected, and drug users are removed from the operation of commercial motor vehicles.” The FMCSA denied this petition on the grounds that it lacks the statutory authority to do so.

What percentage of truckers use drugs?

According to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, thousands of commercial truck drivers test positive for drugs and alcohol each year. Substances in positive tests among commercial truck drivers often include amphetamines, methamphetamine, cocaine, oxymorphone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone.

The most frequently detected substance is marijuana, which makes sense as it is legal for recreational use in some states. Keep in mind, however, that it is illegal to operate a commercial vehicle under the influence of any controlled substance, including marijuana, even in states where the substance itself is not illegal.

According to one recent article, over 40,000 commercially licensed truck drivers failed a federally mandated drug screening for marijuana in 2022 and subsequently did not reapply to return to work.

Talk to a Texas truck accident lawyer today.

The consequences of a crash caused by an impaired trucker can be devastating, with the potential for severe injury or death. If you were injured or a loved one died in a Texas truck accident, our legal team can investigate the circumstances of the crash and look for evidence of driver impairment.

Establishing the connection between drug or alcohol use and a truck accident can be complex and challenging, requiring a thorough investigation. Despite visible signs of impairment, such as erratic driving or the presence of drugs in the truck cab, proving the trucker was impaired can be difficult.

Mandatory drug and alcohol testing of truckers after an accident can provide valuable evidence in the investigation. Eyewitness testimony that suggests trucker intoxication before, during, or after the crash can also help to establish fault. The trucker's driving history, including any prior incidents of substance abuse or reckless behavior, as well as the trucking company's knowledge of these issues, can also play a crucial role in the investigation.

The key is to act fast and consult an attorney who knows how to find the facts that matter to your case. At Tracey Fox King & Walters, our truck accident lawyers know how to hold negligent truckers and trucking companies accountable for their negligence. To see what our law firm can do for your potential legal case, contact us today for a free case evaluation. We have offices in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.

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