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Alcohol, Drugs and Tractor Trailers

Driving while intoxicated is a major problem on our country’s roadways. On almost any given day you can open the newspaper or look at daily crash reports and see at least one alcohol related accident that occurred in the area. In fact, Missouri had 364 alcohol related car accident deaths in 2008 which means the state very nearly averaged a death per day. Nationwide, there were almost 14,000 alcohol related traffic deaths that year. In a tragic bit of irony, many times these accidents will spare the drunken driver, but take the life of an innocent victim in another car.

So alcohol is a major problem in general, but what about the commercial trucking industry? Is it more or less of a problem there? Do regulations help reduce the problem of driving under the influence?

Looking at recent studies, alcohol is actually much less of an issue with commercial truck drivers. Alcohol plays a role in only 6 percent of fatal tractor trailer accidents while it is present in 32 percent of the fatal crashes among the average passenger car driver.

Less than one percent of truck drivers overall ever fail an alcohol screening regardless of whether it came after an accident or was a random test.

What seems to be a bigger problem among truck drivers is drug use, especially stimulants. 5 percent of tractor trailer drivers have failed a test for illegal drugs and 12 percent of drivers were found to have used over the counter stimulants.

The reason the numbers for alcohol use may be lower among truck drivers is that regulations require trucking companies to do an array of drug and alcohol screenings on their employees. These tests may be given pre-employment, after accidents and at random.

Still, we do occasionally see drivers breaking regulation and companies continuing to hire drivers with a history of substance abuse. Those practicing these negligent policies need to be held accountable. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident with a tractor trailer driver that was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, contact a Missouri truck accident lawyer to make sure your rights as an accident victim are protected.