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Substance Abuse and Truck Accidents

Truck drivers face a work environment based largely around endurance. The longer drivers stay on the road, the more time they spend earning money. However, this push to endure leads to serious physical and emotional stresses. These stresses can thus create a temptation to begin abusing alcohol or other drugs during the drive to either cope with physical pain or to stay awake longer. This temptation can cause dangerous situations on the road and can put the lives of the truck drivers as well as other drivers in danger. A 2013 study examined this problem of truck driver substance abuse on a global scale and found some disturbing trends.

Drug Use among Commercial Truckers

The study used a two-pronged approach to determine the scale of the substance abuse problem among truckers by taking self-reported surveys about truck driver drug use, as well as administering actual drug tests. Although the statistics for various types of drugs varied from country to country, they were overall quite high. Thirty percent of truck drivers admitted to using some form of amphetamines, a chemical stimulant, to stay awake while driving. Another 20 percent admitted to marijuana use during their drives, and 3 percent even self-reported cocaine usage while they were on the job. The study also specifically highlighted alcohol use among American drivers, noting that one out of every eight tests for alcohol came back positive.

The commonly abused drugs fall into two major categories, stimulants and depressants, both of which can be dangerous for different reasons. Stimulants, like cocaine and amphetamines, can increase a person's alertness. Therefore, many drivers use them to stay awake on long trips. However, users are also prone to hallucinations, which can make it dangerous to be on the road. Depressants, like alcohol and marijuana, are the opposite. They act as sedatives, slowing reaction times and making people more prone to sleeping.

Protecting Yourself

Given these statistics, there are still steps that drivers can take to help protect themselves from commercial trucking accidents on the road. Taking standard defensive driving steps can help reduce the risk of a commercial trucking accident. This includes steps like maintaining a heightened awareness of where large trucks are when you share the road with them, keeping a safe distance from all other vehicles on the road, and ensuring the proper use of signals when turning or changing lanes around commercial trucks.

Unfortunately even with these additional safety precautions, it is not always possible to protect yourself from everything. If you were recently injured in a commercial truck accident, reach out to an experienced New York City truck accident lawyer today. Our skilled team of professionals can review your claim and help you better understand your options.

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