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Some truck drivers dangerously fighting fatigue with stimulants

Because of the massive weight of trucks, victims of accidents involving these vehicles in North Carolina are often drivers of smaller vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists or other individuals who may be in the path of a collision. An increasing number of drivers are on long hauls at all hours of the day and night. This in and of itself presents possible hazard risks. An added danger is driver fatigue related to efforts to meet tight deadlines and delivery obligations.

According to available statistics, it's long-haul trips of 51 miles or more that account for the bulk of trucking accidents. The risk of personal injury is further increased when drivers turn to stimulants to remain awake behind the wheel. While some truck drivers consider the use of these substances to be a viable solution to help with alertness, the reality is that drugs with stimulating effects boost the risk of accidents and fatalities occurring. In fact, drivers under the influence of stimulants actually have higher driving infraction rates. This is largely because of side effects with these drugs that tend to lead to reduced attention spans and poor focus and decision-making abilities.

Results from random drug sampling efforts show that around 0.6 percent of truck drivers are misusing stimulants such as methamphetamine and amphetamines while behind the wheel and on the road. Some of the large vehicles being operated by these drivers are also ones transporting hazardous substances that could make accidents even more dangerous. The trucking industry's regulatory agency requires regular drug and alcohol testing. Even so, about 2 percent of drivers fail such tests annually.

Effectively litigating a truck accident that resulted in a personal injury may be a daunting task, partly because different insurance companies could be involved. If a driver is believed to be responsible for an accident, a lawyer might be able to show a driver's negligence by collecting results from FMCSA testing or reviewing any documented instances of infractions that suggest a pattern of careless behavior while behind the wheel of a large commercial truck.

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