Truck drivers work erratic schedules, often driving 60- or 70-hour weeks to make long-distance deliveries. Spending that many hours behind the wheel makes it almost impossible to remain alert and keep from being hypnotized by driving fatigue. Many truck drivers use over-the-counter drugs and stimulants to try to keep from nodding off at the wheel. Others take over-the-counter drugs and painkillers to address seasonal allergies and physical ailments that may cause drowsiness. The use of over-the-counter drugs is a contributing cause of many truck accidents.
Over-the-Counter Drugs and Truck Accidents
Over-the-counter medications can affect the performance of people who take them and may interfere with a trucker’s ability to operate a large truck safely. Certain common over-the-counter drugs taken for allergies, colds, and aches and pains can have a sedating effect, causing drowsiness and slowed reflexes. Antihistamines (allergy medicines) are perhaps the most well-known over-the-counter drug with potentially impairing effects according to the National Transportation Safety Board. A truck driver rushing to make a delivery deadline may fail to heed the warning labels accompanying the medication and drive dangerously drowsy.
The Federal Government has enacted several laws referred to as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to help prevent prescription medication use by drivers. See 49 CFR § 382.121. These regulations prohibit the use of certain prescription medications while operating a commercial motor vehicle. However, because of lack of enforcement by many employers, many truck drivers still continue to use prescription medications.
The Large Truck Crash Causation Study, conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, identified truck driver use of over-the-counter drugs as a contributing factor in 17 percent of the hundreds of truck crashes analyzed. But the contribution of over-the-counter drugs to a serious truck accident may not be immediately obvious to the police officer on the accident scene.
You want an experienced truck accident attorney who knows what evidence to look for when investigating a truck accident to identify critical contributing factors such as over-the-counter drug use whether in Missouri or Illinois. At The Cagle Law Firm, we have the commitment and experience to identify all the contributing factors to an 18-wheeler crash. Developing that kind of detailed evidence allows us to achieve the maximum recovery on behalf of clients, whether in a negotiated settlement or a jury trial.