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Drivers Using Drugs Increase in Risks of Tennessee Trucking Accidents – NHTSA Investigates

A Tennessee truck driver was involved in a fatal accident that killed three motorists last week. He was reported, by Durham State Troopers, to have been under the influence of marijuana and methadone at the time of the accident. Troopers also searched the vehicle and found drugs and drug paraphernalia. The driver is being held on a $500,000 bail and is currently facing charges of driving while impaired and three counts of felony death by vehicle, according to the The Charlotte Observer.

The company that the truck driver worked for, based in East Tennessee, has received a number of violations relating to fatigued drivers and unsafe driving that has resulted in a number of trucking accidents in Tennessee.

Our Tennessee trucking accident attorneys understand that these accidents are not uncommon. As a matter of fact, before this accident, the same truck driver was involved in two serious accidents in 2010. These accidents happened in Kentucky and Tennessee. One involved serious injury.

For reasons like this, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been looking into accidents that involve truck drivers and the use of drugs. The NHTSA recently released a new report on drug use by drivers involved in some of our county’s most fatal crashes. The report illustrates an alarming increase in the level of drug involvement among fatally injured motorists from 2005 to 2009.

According to NHTSA research, more than 60 percent of the 21,798 drivers who were killed in traffic accidents in 2009 were tested for drugs. Of these fatalities, nearly 4,000 tested positive for drugs. The report also concluded that the use of drugs among fatally injured drivers increased 2 percent from 2005 to 2006 and another 2 percent to 2008.

“Every driver on the road has a personal responsibility to operate his or her vehicle with full and uncompromised attention on the driving task,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Today’s report provides a warning signal that too many Americans are driving after having taken drugs, not realizing the potential for putting themselves and others on the highway at risk.”

The types of drugs recorded include narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabinoids, phencyclidines (PCPs), anabolic steroids and inhalants. The groups include both illicit drugs, legally prescribed drugs and over-the-counter medicines.

“While it’s clear that science and state policies regarding drugs and driving are evolving, one fact is indisputable. If you are taking any drugs that might impair your ability to drive safely, then you need to put common sense and caution to the forefront, and give your keys to someone else. It doesn’t matter if its drugs or alcohol, if you’re impaired, don’t drive,” Strickland warned.

The NHTSA will continue to conduct research regarding drug use and truck drivers and their impact on traffic accidents. Currently, there are nearly 1,000 instructors and more than 6,000 trained police officers in 46 states that are able to recognize symptoms of driver impairment by drugs other than alcohol.

In Tennessee alone, nearly 100 drivers that were tested for drugs after a fatal traffic accident returned positive results in 2009. Another 250 drivers were tested that did not have test results recorded.

If you or a loved one is injured or killed in a trucking accident in Tennessee, contact Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights with our Knoxville injury lawyers and Maryville accident attorneys. Call (877) 472-5657.

More Blog Entries:

Officials Crack Down on Trucking Accidents in Tennessee and Elsewhere, Tennessee Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, June 21, 2011

New Program Aims to Help Those Severely Injured in Tennessee Vehicle Accidents, Tennessee Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, June 7, 2011

New Proposals Aim to Reduce Risk of Tennessee Tractor-Trailer Accidents, Tennessee Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, May 17, 2011

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