According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driver negligence is 10 times more likely to cause highway accidents due to factors such as weather, darkness and road conditions. Pacific Standard Magazine estimates that 3,675 people died in fatal accidents involving large trucks on American highways in 2010. With the rate of death on American highways rising, it is not surprising to find out that drug use among truck drivers is becoming an increasingly alarming problem.
Reuters estimates that nearly 20 percent of American truck drivers are high on marijuana when they are behind the wheel, 12.5 percent are under the influence of alcohol and three percent are taking cocaine. The range of drugs
being taken by truck drivers includes:
The drug known as speed is also popular among American truck drivers and is used as a more powerful alternative to caffeine. The problem is growing, and the number of deaths on the roads are causing concern for trucking companies and public officials.
Marijuana and alcohol are depressants that impair a driver's ability to judge speed and distances, while drugs such as caffeine and speed are stimulants that hide the effects of fatigue. Once the stimulants wear off, fatigue can set in quickly and cause a driver to fall asleep at the wheel.
Another problem is that drivers often take hallucinogens such as LSD for their stimulant effect, but fall prey to the mind-altering nature of these drugs. The effects of hallucinogens can become more pronounced as fatigue sets in and the driver is no longer able to concentrate on the road.
The primary reason drivers take drugs is to be able to stay awake during long, overnight runs. Many drivers get paid
based on how quickly they can deliver loads to their destinations, and that causes drivers to take drugs to be able to stay awake all night long.
One of the ironic reasons that truck drivers take drugs is to attempt to fend off boredom on the open road. A driver who is preparing to take a route through a desert or other open areas may take hallucinogens to attempt to maintain focus on the road. The ironic part is that the hallucinogens take away from a driver's focus and can have dangerous results.
Road safety and drug abuse are two issues that government officials and trucking companies are trying to combat
together. There are laws outlining how many hours per day a driver can be on the road, but some drivers falsify their records and put themselves and others at risk. Trucking companies and government officials continue to work together to find real solutions to this growing problem.
One of the more frustrating parts of being in a highway accident with a truck is that it may not have been your fault at all. Along with drugs, other issues that can cause accidents on the highway include:
If you find yourself involved in an accident with a truck on the highway and you suspect that drugs may have been involved, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney immediately.
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