A survey carried out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revealed that 44% of truck drivers who cause accidents out of negligence take prescription drugs. Most drivers take these drugs to reduce fatigue and muscle tension. However, most, if not all of these drugs come with instructions that warn against operating any machine. The warnings stipulate the drugs may cause dizziness. Hence, the reason driving while still taking prescription drugs is deemed as an act of negligence.
Prescription Drugs Commonly Linked to Truck Accidents
Any truck driver has a legal responsibility to ensure that they are sober on the road and unaffected by prescription drugs of any kind. The following medications are particularly dangerous when used by a truck driver who doesn’t want to stay off the road;
• Pain medication including Valium and Vicodin
• Muscle relaxants
• Drugs used to lessen anxiety such as benzodiazepines
• Insomnia prescription drugs
The active ingredients in these medicines can reduce the driver’s ability to focus on the task at hand, stay awake and react fast enough in case of an emergency. For the truck driver, this may lead to an impairment that can pose serious safety concerns on the road.
Is Use of Prescription Drugs Regulated for Truck Drivers?
According to the FMCSA, truck drivers are not allowed to take prescription drugs or any other controlled substances unless the medication has been prescribed by a licensed doctor or pharmacist. Any truck driver that is found to be taking prescription drugs that can lead to impairment of driving abilities is deemed as medically unfit to drive a truck unless the doctor verifies that it is safe for use.
Are Truck Drivers Required to Undergo Drug Testing Requirements?
Companies that employ truck drivers for commercial operations are required by the FMCSA to ensure that their drivers undergo tests on a regular basis. The test should be conducted before hiring the driver, after the driver is suspected to be using prescription drugs and, after the driver has caused an accident as a result of impairment. The tests should be done randomly as well. The drug tests should also seek to establish if the driver has been using amphetamines, methamphetamines and phencyclidine as well as other commonly abused drugs including marijuana, cocaine, and opiates. If a commercial truck driver tests positive for any of these drugs he or should be suspended from service with immediate effect and enrolled in a rehabilitation facility.
What are Your Options After a Truck Accident?
The fact that a truck driver is not supposed to use prescription drugs that may interfere with his or her ability to drive means that the driver is liable for any damages he or she causes as a result of drug use. This by extension means that you or any other close friend is entitled to compensation if injured in an accident caused by a driver who is taking prescription drugs. While you may pursue the compensation on your own, the chances of getting compensation equal to the damages caused may be limited. Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer to increase the likelihood of recovering medical costs, lost wages or any other out-of-pocket expenses that you may have incurred. A truck accident attorney is familiar with the system and will help you avoid mistakes that would deny you compensation.