The DOT said it would like to add four commonly prescribed painkillers to the list of drugs included in routine urinalysis given to truck drivers
The opioid abuse epidemic in the United States has become a widespread problem in nearly every part of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), six out of 10 drug-related deaths in the U.S. involve an opioid, and the number of opioid-related fatalities has quadrupled since 1999.
Unfortunately, the trucking industry has seen its fair share of serious accidents involving the abuse of opioids. Now, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed including certain types of opioids in the drug screenings conducted on truck drivers.
DOT Wants to Add Four Opioids to Drug Screenings
Recently, the DOT said it would like to add four commonly prescribed painkillers to the list of drugs included in routine urinalysis given to truck drivers. The painkillers — all opioids — include hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and hydromorphone.
The notice of proposed federal rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed inclusion of the four drugs until March 24, 2017. From there, the federal agency will make a decision regarding the inclusion of these substances in routine drug screenings for commercial drivers.
Study Shows High Rate of Trucker Drug Use
According to a study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, an analysis of 36 studies of trucker drug use from around the world revealed high rates of both illegal and prescription drug use among truck drivers. The study is significant because it takes a look at such a large variety of other studies, which allows researchers to get an in-depth and comprehensive look at drug use in both the global and domestic trucking industry.
Half of truckers surveyed said they had used alcohol behind the wheel, and 30 percent admitted to using amphetamines on the job. In Brazil, an astonishing 91 percent of truckers said they had consumed alcohol while operating a truck. One study showed that truck drivers in the United States had the highest rates of alcohol use behind the wheel.
Atlanta truck accident lawyer Amy Witherite explains, “Many people don’t view opioids as a threat because they are prescribed by a doctor. However, these are powerful drugs that have the ability to seriously impair a person’s judgment, motor skills, and reaction time. When an individual is driving a vehicle that weighs up to 80,000 pounds, the margin of error is extremely narrow.”
Although most people associate alcohol with impaired driving, any substance — including a prescription — that affects a driver’s judgment behind the wheel is dangerous.
If you have been injured in a tractor-trailer accident, protect your rights. Contact an Atlanta truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options and the next steps in your case.
Eberstein & Witherite, LLP
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