Impaired truck drivers are more common than you think

In recent years, the annual total of accidents involving tractor-trailers and other big rigs hovers around 4,000. The truck drivers in a significant percentage of fatal accidents tested positive for drugs or alcohol. This may seem astonishing to you. Even if you have no experience behind the wheel of a large truck, common sense tells you it requires considerable concentration and effort to control it.

When conditions are ideal, a fully loaded tractor-trailer may need up to 40 percent more road than a passenger vehicle to come to a complete stop. A big rig may also weigh nearly 40 tons more than a standard car. Combine this with a recent study in which 50 percent of surveyed truckers admitted to using drugs or alcohol while operating their rigs, and you have a recipe for tragedy.

Truckers under pressure

The fast-paced, competitive nature of the trucking industry places tremendous stress on its drivers. Only a small percentage of consumer goods makes its way to stores and customers by train, plane or other means. The rest travels over the highways. You have probably noticed over the past several years the increasing truck traffic on major highways through Phoenix and other parts of the state.

Under pressure to compete in this demanding market, trucking companies ask more and more of their drivers, who often spend long, exhausting hours on the road, separated from their families and isolated in their cabs. These factors often lead drivers to make deadly choices, including using mind-altering substances to combat the fatigue, boredom and loneliness of their jobs. Some of the common substances many truckers use include:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription opioids
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Meth

It may be terrifying to imagine that the truck barreling up behind you or rolling past you on the highway may have a driver who is willing to risk the safety of your family by using substances that impair his or her ability to remain in control.

As the demand for truckers increases, drivers continue to deal with the pressures of the job in dangerous ways, often needing to increase the amount of drugs or alcohol they use to meet their quotas or simply to remain awake behind the wheel. If you or a loved one are unfortunate enough to encounter an impaired truck driver, it may benefit you to know that the potential for compensation for your injuries and losses may reach beyond the driver of the truck. A skilled attorney will explore every option for obtaining the damages you deserve.

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