We cannot stress enough that when getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, drivers have the legal duty to not be the cause of injury to others on the road. This may be even truer for truck drivers, because on top of this normal duty to be safe drivers, they have the additional duty as employees for a company to act as agents for their employer. Truck drivers are agents of their parent company because the employer has authorized or ordered the truck driver to complete various tasks while on duty. That means that the company is also often liable for injuries that truck drivers cause to others. To avoid causing injury to others in truck accidents, truck drivers need to devote their full focus and attention to the roads. Avoiding negligence and reckless behavior means never driving a truck after consuming alcohol or drugs.
Studies show that alcohol and drug use by truck drivers is common, yet according to an article in Science Daily, and originally published in the British Medical Journal, alcohol and drug use among truck drivers poses great risks for road safety. Drug and alcohol use on the job appears to be correlated to younger age, long trips, night driving, fewer hours of rest, and lower pay. Truck drivers often use alcohol and drugs to cope with their long hours and fatigue. Employers financially benefit from drivers working long hours, but as a legal and ethical obligation to keep others free from injury, employers need to avoid causing truck drivers to engage in negligent driving by not assigning overly long shifts and allowing break periods.
This study presented that substances used most commonly by truck drivers while on the road are alcohol, cocaine, cannabis, and amphetamines. However, such analyses can only detect substances that have been used hours or a few days before, so the true extent of drug and alcohol use may very well be underestimated. Furthermore, even though some drugs may be stimulants, unlike alcohol which slows reaction times, the study shows that use of stimulants can incite drivers to take more risks and increase reckless driving behavior. Additionally, after one “crashes” from such drugs, they are prone to fall asleep at the wheel and cause a collision and increase risks of personal injuries and deaths.
Because it appears that alcohol and drug use is unfortunately common among truck drivers, it is extremely important that companies, the principal, monitor their employees, the agents of the company. Alcohol and drug consumption while on the job, particularly a job that involves driving and sharing roads with others, is never acceptable. Not only should companies closely monitor employee behavior, but they should have strict no tolerance policies for alcohol and drug use while at work and enforce these rules.
Our attorneys are adamant that alcohol and drug use should never be tolerated on the road and while at work. We recently settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $6.5 million on behalf of a family of a deceased woman. The victim died as the result of a truck accident where the driver rear-ended her vehicle. The truck driver was both under the influence of marijuana and operating an overloaded tractor-trailer. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a truck accident, you too may be able to recover compensation for your losses and suffering. Call our firm today for a free consultation, and we would be happy to discuss your case with you.