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Safety group: Truck accidents could stem from trucker drug use

Drivers of passenger vehicles who are sharing the road with large trucks in Ohio are keenly aware of the dangers they pose. They are intimidating because of their size, speed and distance they travel, but there are other factors that can place people in jeopardy of injuries and death after a truck accident. Issues such as a drunk truck driver, a drowsy trucker and a trucker who is ignoring the rules of safety that regulators have implemented are all common causes of accidents. A frequently ignored issue is drug use among truckers. This could be a key factor in a crash and in seeking compensation for medical costs, lost wages and more.

According to the safety group the Trucking Alliance, many truckers are using illegal drugs and getting away with it. It conducted a study and presented it to congress to emphasize the point. The Trucking Alliance provided evidence that truckers who were drug tested with hair testing compared to urinalysis before a truck company hired them had vastly different results. The urinalysis was notoriously inaccurate, missing nine out of 10 drivers who should have tested positive for drugs in their systems.

A 1991 law requires that truckers be tested for alcohol and drugs. The U.S. Department of Transportation regulates it and uses urinalysis. Employers can require drivers to have other drug tests. Carriers that are part of the Trucking Alliance and others do require drivers to take part in a hair analysis drug test before hiring them. Of nearly 152,000 applicants who had a urinalysis and a hair analysis, 94 percent were found to be clean. Still, there were thousands who failed one or both tests. Urinalysis was found to have accuracy issues. Problematically, this is the test that most companies use. One percent of applicants were found to have drugs in the system via urinalysis. Over eight percent refused to submit to the hair test or failed it.

The most common drugs found, in order, were cocaine, opioids and marijuana. The Alliance points out that safety is being compromised by the failure to require truckers to have a more comprehensive and accurate series of tests to determine if they have used drugs. After a truck accident, those who were injured or lost a loved one will want answers as to why it happened. If drugs were involved, this is an egregious act on the part of a trucker that, all too often, is missed by the employer. To recover compensation including medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering and funeral expenses, a legal filing might be needed. A law firm that is experienced in investigating and pursuing claims after truck accidents can help with a case.

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