How Truck Driver Substance Abuse Contributes to Catastrophic Crashes in Virginia

The massive size and weight of trucks result in severe damage and loss of life when they collide with smaller passenger cars. According to data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, there were 2,356 truck crashes in 2020, resulting in 58 fatalities. Improved testing, treatment, education, and regulation of the trucking industry is critical for enhancing road safety.

Substance abuse among truck drivers is a major contributing factor to catastrophic crashes on Virginia’s roads and highways. Impaired driving puts the lives of truck drivers, passengers, and the general public at great risk. Understanding the factors that lead to truck driver substance abuse can help improve road safety across the state.

Prevalence of Substance Abuse Among Truck Drivers

Studies have found high rates of drug and alcohol abuse among truck drivers nationwide. Long hours, isolation, stress, and inadequate access to treatment have all been cited as reasons for widespread substance abuse problems. Surveys indicate an alarming number of truck drivers use drugs or alcohol while operating their vehicles. Amphetamines, cocaine, cannabis, and prescription opioids are commonly abused substances.

Data from 2020 showed that 6% of large truck drivers tested positive for at least one drug. Substance abuse appears to be a significant factor behind truck driver-caused crashes in the state.

Effects on Truck Driver Performance and Crash Risk

Drug and alcohol impairment severely degrade the abilities required for safe driving. Reaction times, coordination, focus, and alertness are all negatively impacted. Impaired truck drivers are substantially more likely to be involved in risky driving behaviors like speeding, tailgating, improper lane changes, and failure to yield.

One study found truck drivers who tested positive for marijuana were more likely to be involved in a crash. Drug and alcohol use increases the likelihood of catastrophic crashes involving multiple vehicles, injuries, fatalities, and extensive property damage.

Consequences of Catastrophic Truck Crashes

Crashes involving large trucks often have devastating outcomes due to the sheer size and weight of these vehicles. Truck crashes often cause catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, internal organ damage, and severe burns. The scale of human suffering is immense, with many victims left permanently disabled or disfigured. Catastrophic crashes place a huge burden on victims, families, first responders, the healthcare system, and the economy at large.

Substance abuse contributes directly to the frequency and severity of truck crashes in the state. Effective solutions that identify and treat high-risk drivers are essential to improving public safety. Comprehensive education, testing, and treatment programs can help address the underlying causes of substance abuse among truckers in Virginia. Reducing impaired driving by commercial operators must be a top priority for policy makers and transportation regulators across the state.

Monge & Associates have offices in 32 locations across 19 states, including South Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597 if you have been hurt in a truck accident and the driver was impaired. We can help you get the compensation you need to move on.