Large commercial trucks are an important part of our economy. Since they can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds with fully-loaded cargo, it takes a great deal of skill and responsibility to operate one of these massive vehicles.
One of the most dangerous things a commercial truck driver can do is get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or certain medications.
Many substances have overlapping effects on drivers' judgment, reaction time, coordination, muscle control and visual functioning.
Marijuana most commonly found in truck driver drug tests
It should be no surprise that marijuana is an emerging substance that is often linked to impaired driving. Today, it's legal to purchase cannabis products in many states, including Washington.
Truck drivers are required to undergo random drug testing under federal law (§ 382.305) set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). In addition, the federal agency tracks drug testing and provides real time information regarding truck drivers who have failed drug tests. This can be found in the FMCSA's new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse report.
The report collected drug testing data from September 2019 to May 2020 and identified 19,849 truck drivers who tested positive for at least one substance. Among those were:
- Marijuana — 10,388 positive tests
- Cocaine — 3,192 positive tests
- Methamphetamine — 2,184 positive tests
Truck drivers who tested positive for substances are required to complete a return-to-duty process before they can begin driving again. Roughly 15,682 truck drivers hadn't begun the process when the clearinghouse report was published.
Marijuana is more likely to show up in drug tests in states where it is legal for medicinal and recreational use. According to Amber Schweer, the supervisor of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, many truck drivers are not aware of the consequences of using cannabis products, even while off duty.
“There are so many companies that claim you won’t test positive using their product when in reality they cannot guarantee that,” said Schweer. “Drivers are not heeding the warnings that are put out there and, unfortunately, are facing expensive and detrimental consequences to their career.”
The U.S Department of Transportation also cautions that CBD products can contain THC, which can show up on a drug test.
What to do if you were injured by an impaired truck driver
While random drug tests can help keep impaired truck drivers off the road, there may be some truckers who go under the radar and put others on the road in danger. If you or a loved one was injured in a crash with an impaired truck driver, get an experienced Washington truck accident attorney on your side.
Herschensohn Law Firm, PLLC is dedicated to helping crash victims and their families in the pursuit of justice. Our legal team knows how to investigate crashes involving large commercial trucks and advocate for fair and complete compensation.
We serve clients in Kent and the greater Seattle area. To learn more, contact us online and schedule your free legal consultation.