Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse & Trucking

Truck Accident Attorneys in Washington, DC

The adverse effects of drugs and alcohol on a motorist lead to injury and death every day in this country. Driving under the influence becomes an even greater risk when the vehicle is an 80,000 pound truck that can cause mass destruction. As drug and alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents have increased in frequency, drug and alcohol testing for truck drivers has become mandatory.

However, when these precautions fail to prevent a driver from exercising good judgment, a serious personal injury may occur. In these cases, it is best to contact a Washington, DC truck accident lawyer immediately to start an investigation.

Substance Use & Trucking Facts

The Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety found that truck drivers had the following substances in their system while driving:

  • Marijuana – 15%
  • Non-prescription stimulants – 12%
  • Prescription stimulants – 5%
  • Cocaine – 2%
  • Alcohol – 1%

Marijuana and amphetamines are the two most commonly abused substance by truckers according to the statistics.


Many drivers mistakenly believe that marijuana has less of an effect on their driving ability than alcohol does. In reality, marijuana can affect reaction time and concentration for up to 24 hours after it is smoked.

The National Transportation Safety Board found in a 1990 study that 12.5 percent of fatal truck accidents involved marijuana. It is also common for marijuana and alcohol to be combined, which magnifies the risk of a serious accident. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that, among all the drivers stopped by police, 45% had marijuana in their systems.


The use of stimulants by truck drivers is common when they seek ways to stay mentally alert. Federal regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road in a single day. However, many drivers seek ways to stay awake longer in order to drive further and make more money.

Of the drivers interviewed by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), 85 percent revealed that it is easy to obtain methamphetamines at truck stops. The driver may feel more awake, methamphetamines do not actually eliminate the dangers caused by sleep deprivation.

Drugged Drivers & the National Transportation Safety Board

According to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, drug use is connected to a startling number of truck-related traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths. In a one-year study, the board found that 31% of truck accidents were allegedly caused by fatigue. Nearly half of the drivers involved in these accidents also tested positive for a controlled substance, such as illegal drugs.

According to the study, repeated drug use is common among truck drivers. It said:

“There is a significant relationship between a driver’s prior alcohol and/or other drug offenses and a positive test for drugs of abuse in these accidents. This points up the need for thorough background checks and pre-employment drug tests…”

Additionally, the study indicated a strong relationship between shipment deadlines and drug use. In other words, drivers are more likely to use artificial stimulants if they have an approaching shipment deadline. While drivers may not use drugs recreationally, their actions place the lives of innocent motorists at risk. Truck drivers are expected to operate their vehicles safely on our roadways at all times. However, poor judgment can often lead to substance abuse that makes them a danger to themselves and other drivers.

Looking for a Washington, DC Truck Accident Lawyer?

If you or someone you love has been harmed in a trucking accident that involved drugs or alcohol, it is important to consult an experienced truck accident attorney at once – you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we believe that every case requires the highest level of personal attention to ensure the best possible results.

If you have been involved in an accident caused by a truck driver, please contact our Washington, DC personal injury attorneys or call us for a free and confidential consultation.

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