The Federal Motor Carrier Administration reports that out of 3,341 fatal accidents involving commercial trucks, and an additional 60,000 accidents causing injuries, 45% involved truck drivers under the influence of drugs. The size of the trucks elevates the risk since they have a higher potential for causing extensive damage. Hence, drug-impaired truck drivers are a significant safety concern.
The study detailed the influence of different types of drugs in these accidents. Approximately 2% of nationwide accidents were associated with drivers intoxicated by illicit drugs. Meanwhile, over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs were found in 17% and 26% of accidents, respectively. Both legal and illegal drugs can significantly affect a person's ability to drive. Even commonplace cold medications can induce severe drowsiness, while other drugs may impact vision, induce dizziness, nausea, among other side effects.
It is crucial for truck drivers to understand the potential impact of medications on their driving skills, as these drugs come with warnings about possible side effects. Importantly, commercial drivers are legally prohibited from driving under the influence of any drugs, whether illegal or otherwise. The consequences of impaired driving can be serious, ranging from license suspension to imprisonment and substantial fines.
Despite these risks, many semi-truck drivers persist in drug use while on the road. A certain study revealed that about 30% of drivers confessed to using amphetamines, 20% admitted to marijuana use, and 3% acknowledged cocaine use. Drivers found guilty of illegal drug use while operating a commercial vehicle may face drug-related charges along with driving-related offenses and potential prison time.