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Some truck drivers fighting roadway fatigue with stimulants

Truck drivers in Ohio and across the rest of the country are under increased pressure to meet hauling deadlines at all hours of the day. This type of demanding work, especially when extensive driving of long distances is required, can contribute to driver fatigue. Due to the weight and size of trucks, the victims in these accidents tend to be people in other vehicles, passengers and nearby pedestrians or cyclists.

While any type of truck-related collision can have serious consequences for everyone involved, it's longer trips lasting more than 51 miles that tend to result in motor vehicle accidents. Also, one out of every four truck drivers reports having fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once during the past month. What's also raising eyebrows is the increased use of stimulants by some truck drivers looking to stay awake while getting to their long-distance destination.

Nearly 1 percent of truck drivers are using amphetamines, cocaine and similar substances while operating large vehicles that sometimes contain dangerous materials, according to random drug sampling results. Ironically, drivers using stimulants to stay awake as they drive actually have higher driving infraction rates than non-stimulant-using drivers. Part of the reason for this is because drugs that stimulate the body can also cause potentially serious side effects that could affect cognitive and motor functions. Some stimulant drugs also affect attention spans, impulse control and decision-making abilities. And while the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) requires drug and alcohol testing of drivers on a regular basis, roughly 2 percent of drivers fail these tests.

With motor vehicle accidents involving trucks, there's always the potential for personal injuries. If it's believed some type of negligence on the part of a driver may have been a contributing factor, an attorney may look at results from a driver's past mandatory drug/alcohol tests or check records for hours of service violations that might suggest a driver was likely fatigued. In some cases, it may be possible to take legal action against the company a driver works for or the manufacturer of the vehicle if mechanical flaws were an additional factor.

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