Semi trucks can easily weigh 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. Imagine what it is like to share the road with more than 100,000 of these monstrous vehicles steered by drivers who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol?
According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Roadcheck 2008, one percent of truck drivers who were stopped during random checks were under the influence of some type of drug or alcohol. If you multiply one percent times the number of truck drivers on our roads every day, that’s nearly 100,000 truckers who are driving while impaired.
The Roadcheck inspections by no means give an accurate depiction of how many drivers are impaired on a daily basis. Why? Because the “random” inspections are announced months in advance so that everyone in the trucking industry knows exactly when and where they are going to occur. Most truckers who are under the influence will simply avoid the area during the inspection days.
The real number of truckers driving impaired is probably closer to 200,000. There are many factors to look at to show that the real numbers of impaired truck drivers is much higher than what is found at the inspection sites.
1. Doctor Shopping is easy: Too many people are out of work today. If your livelihood depends on driving a truck, but you have a medical condition that prevents you from driving — such as alcoholism — trust me, you’ll go to as many doctors as you have to until you find one who clears you to drive. This is called doctor shopping, and it’s a very serious problem.
2. Industry-wide cheating on drugs tests is common: There are many trucking magazines that give truckers specific websites where they can purchase products to help them cheat on their drug tests. Tradition urine tests are easy to manipulate, and truckers know this. One transportation company — J.B. Hunt Transport Services — no longer uses the tradition urine tests to test its drivers. Drivers for J.B. Hunt must submit hair samples for testing. This is much more accurate and more difficult to cheat on. If more trucking companies used hair samples, our roads would be much safer places.
3. Many independent contractors have no background checks or drug testing: A large portion of truckers on the roads today are independent contractors; meaning they work for themselves and not for one specific company. This creates a wall of protection for trucking companies if the driver is involved in a truck accident where he or she is at fault. Unfortunately, section 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations to not require criminal background checks to be performed on truck drivers. Many states do not require this either.
4. Truckers will often leave the scene of an accident if drugs or alcohol are suspected: It’s a fact of life: truckers cause accidents when they are impaired. Trucking companies will sometimes encourage impaired drivers to leave accident scenes if they are under the influence. Paying the penalties for failing to drug test their drivers is much cheaper than facing punitive damages if they are found liable for failing to provide safety programs.
Truck driving is not a game. Truckers and trucking companies should not be absolved from liability simply because they perform a valuable service. It is the responsibility of all trucking companies to ensure the roads are safe for those who use them.
If you were injured by a truck driver and the use of drugs or alcohol are suspected, you need an experienced accident lawyer to fight for you. The lawyers at the Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys Law Firm have experience holding trucking companies accountable for the actions of their drivers. Don’t suffer needlessly. If a truck driver injures you because he or she was impaired, you deserve compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and your pain and suffering.