The concerns about over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medication use among truckers is heightened in recent years because America is gripped by a truck driver shortage. According to an article in the Washington Post, the American Trucking Association estimates that 51,000 more drivers are needed to accommodate the growing shipping demands from giant retailers like Amazon and Walmart.
The hazards of driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs are widely known. But not everyone realizes that prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can cause severe impairment as well. Unfortunately, the limited pool of available truck drivers means that more truckers could be hitting the roads while medicated. When truck drivers take medication and operate vehicles weighing as much as 80,000 pounds, severe and often fatal accidents can occur.
How Can OTC and Prescription Drugs Affect Truck Drivers?
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Truck drivers may use OTC medications to treat minor conditions such as a cold or allergies. While it is common to turn to OTC and prescription medications to combat illnesses and other conditions, it is crucial to refrain from driving until you understand how the medicine affects you. For those whose job it is to operate large commercial vehicles on busy roads and highways, it is even more essential to make sure that the medications do not impair them in any way.
Any substance that impacts a truck driver’s coordination and alertness could lead to a catastrophic injury accident. Some common medications that could negatively affect a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle include:
- Pain relievers
- Sleeping aids
- Cough and cold medicines
- Eye medications
- Some heart medicines
Prescription or OTC medications can cause side effects in truck drivers such as:
- Impaired coordination
- Delayed reaction time
- Balance problems
- Impaired spatial judgment
In addition, some OTC medications may cause drivers to experience anxiety, which could lead to a panic attack behind the wheel. All of these side effects could result in a disaster for nearby motorists, pedestrians and the truck driver.
Medications That Disqualify Truck Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established strict regulations that truck drivers and truck companies must follow in order to protect the public. While truckers are allowed to take many OTC medications on the clock, other medications are prohibited.
Many of the prohibited medications are habit-forming and can seriously affect the performance of drivers. These include:
- Controlled substances
- Depressants or stimulants
- Anti-seizure medication
Some of the above medications can be exempt from FMCSA’s rules if the driver obtains written permission from a licensed physician stating that their ability will not be impaired by the dosage.
How to Prove Prescription Drug Use of a Driver After an Accident
If you have been hurt with a collision with a truck driver, you may be entitled to compensation to help cover the cost of medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses. In order to collect the compensation that you deserve, you need to contact an experienced truck accident attorney.
A truck accident lawyer can investigate the crash to prove that the trucker was impaired by a prescription or OTC drug. Medical records, medication receipts, drug tests and other vital forms of evidence can show that the driver was on medication at the time of the crash.
In addition to testing the driver, obtaining documentation from the driver’s employer can help shed light on the driver’s history. Often employers will withhold information about employee’s drug tests. Because this information is kept confidential, a court order is typically needed to obtain it. All of these steps can be taken by your lawyer with minimal input from you.
How Can Belluck & Fox Help Me?
A collision with a large commercial vehicle can have a devastating impact on your health and livelihood. If you have been hurt in a crash and you believe the driver was under the influence of over-the-counter or prescription medication, the New York truck accident lawyers at Belluck & Fox are ready to fight for you.
Our top-rated lawyers have 25 years of experience representing clients who have been injured in catastrophic truck accidents. To find out how we can help you, contact us today for a free case review.
Arrange your free consultation now.