Meeting deadlines as a truck driver often means driving hundreds of miles through traffic, construction sites, difficult traffic patterns, all while operating a vehicle that can weigh anywhere between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds. This would not be an easy task for anyone to do, and truck drivers are under an incredible amount of stress. That is why there has been a system of driver substance abuse noted throughout the truck driving profession, as drivers turn to alcohol or recreational drugs to take away some of their stress and anxiety or to keep them awake during their longer truck routes. However, many of these substances have negative side effects that can impair a driver’s ability to make rational decisions. In addition, many of these substances can affect a driver’s visual perception in addition to clouding their judgment.
Before a person can get behind the wheel of a large commercial vehicle, they must pass a drug test to ensure that they do not have any illegal substances in their body. In addition to a pre-employment drug screening, commercial drivers are also subjected to random drug testing during the course of their employment. While these drug screenings are mandatory, there has been a troubling trend in the trucking industry where trucking companies seem to look the other way when a drug screen comes back with evidence of drug use. Some substances that drug screenings are designed to identify include:
Everyone knows that you should not drive after you have been drinking. While most states have a legal limit of 0.08 BAC for non-commercial drivers, federal guidelines impose a stricter standard for commercial drivers. Under the Federal guidelines, a commercial driver cannot have a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or higher while they are operating a commercial vehicle.
While some states have begun to legalize marijuana, it is still illegal under federal laws, and commercial drivers are still not permitted to smoke or consume marijuana products. Marijuana has been noted to slow reaction time as well as impair his or her judgment.
While drivers should follow their doctor’s treatment plan, certain prescription medications can slow a driver’s reaction time as well as impair judgment. Many medications come with warnings on the side of the label that warn drivers that they should not operate large machinery or drive until they are accustomed to the side effects.
Over the counter medications
There are many medications that a person can get over the counter, which means that a person does not need a prescription to buy the medication. Similar to prescription medication, many of these over the counter medications can cause adverse side effects such as drowsiness, blurry or impaired vision, or dizziness.
Other illegal substances
It would be impossible to discuss all of the illicit and illegal substances that a commercial driver may take in an effort to relieve stress and or stay awake longer. However, many if not all of these substances are considered illegal under both state and federal law. Many of these drugs and substances have disastrous effects on drivers and can cause severely impaired reaction times, disorientation, and incapacity.
Caffeine and Truck Accidents
Many people start their morning with a cup of coffee. Most if not all of these people will tell you that they do not really like the taste of coffee itself, and will add large amounts of sugar or flavored syrups to cover the acidic taste of the coffee. However, the reason why coffee and other “energy” drinks have become a staple for those headed to work is that they contain a chemical known as caffeine.
Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. While caffeine does not have many of the negative effects of other illicit drugs, it can cause physical dependence. Like other drugs when your body becomes dependent on it, in order for a person to experience the same effects as they did in the past, they will need to consume more of the substance. Most people will report that if they do not drink coffee or have caffeine for a day they will experience any one or more of the following:
- Overall fatigue
- Decreased concentration
The reason that people consume so much caffeine is that it increases a person’s alertness and gives them energy. When you consider that many commercial drivers are expected to drive hundreds of miles over the course of a day, and must meet very strict deadlines, it is obvious why many will turn to large amounts of caffeine. However, drinking a cup of coffee or drinking an energy drink is not guaranteed to give you energy for the entire day, and many people will have another cup over the course of the day. Those who consume a large amount of caffeine in a day can experience something known as a crash, which is when the caffeine effects wear off and the person will experience a dramatic decrease in focus and overall energy. This can lead to accidents and impaired driving.
Contact Our National Truck Accident Lawyers Today
To schedule a private, no-cost evaluation, call the trucking accident attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 215-9000 or contact us online. If the statute of limitations expires, your window of legal opportunity will close and you won’t be able to pursue a claim.