Opioid use has become a major problem in the United States. Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic is having fatal consequences. Not only are more people than ever dying of overdoses, but there is also an increased risk of accidents impacting innocent people who do not use drugs. These types of accidents can occur, for example, when a truck driver uses opioids on the job.
Trucks.com indicates that many trucking companies are worried about the risks that drugged drivers can present to road safety. In response to rising concerns about truck driver drug use, several motor carriers have come together in order to try to convince the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to modify the way that drug tests are conducted.
These carriers believe that a change to using a hair test instead of a urine test could allow for improved accuracy of testing so trucking companies can better prevent accidents and ensure truckers aren't causing a risk to other motorists.
Opioid use has actually become an epidemic and has reached crisis levels. According to Health and Human Services (HHS), there were more overdoses in 2014 than at any time since records of overdose deaths have been maintained. A full 60 percent of those fatalities can be attributed to opioids, including heroin as well as prescription narcotic medications.
There is no data available yet for 2015 and 2016, but since all evidence suggests that the opioid crisis is getting much worse, it is likely there will be an even bigger number of deaths due to opioid use over the past two years.
The high number of fatalities reflects a dramatic increase from years past. It is quadruple the number of deaths due to overdoses as compared with in 1999. There are an average of 78 deaths every single day because of opioid-related overdoses and things grow worse daily. Each day, 3,900 people initiate non-medical use of prescription opioid medications for the first time, and each day, an average of 580 people start using opioids, according to HHS.
Many of these people are working in jobs where their addiction could cause them to create serious safety issues. This is especially true if the opioid user is a commercial truck driver who is responsible for ensuring the safe operation of a truck weighing as much as 80,000 pounds.
Truck drivers have, unfortunately, demonstrated a susceptibility to drug use in the past. Reuters published a report in 2013, for example, warning of amphetamine use, high levels of alcohol, marijuana use, and cocaine use among commercial truck drivers. As many as 20 percent of drivers admitted to marijuana use, and Reuters reported on one study showing 12.5 percent of commercial truckers testing positive for alcohol.
With opioids so common, there is no question that there is a substantial risk a commercial trucker could cause an accident because he is using, and abusing, this type of prescription drug. An experienced attorney can provide assistance to victims harmed by a trucker who causes a truck accident while under the influence of opioids.