Substance use and fatigue in truck accidents

In the state of Oklahoma, 112 people died in accidents that involved large trucks like tractor trailers in 2013 alone.

Substance use has recently been identified as a factor in a September 2014 crash that killed four people in Oklahoma. NewsOK.com reports that a trucker crossed a median and hit a bus carrying a women's college softball team, continuing on until it stopped by hitting some trees. The four fatalities were all members of the softball team.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirms that the use of synthetic marijuana has been linked to this fatal truck crash. The substance is reportedly difficult to test for. The driver was charged with four counts of manslaughter for the deaths of the young women.

Several concerning factors

Substance use is just one of the concerning factors in large truck accidents. News9OK.com notes that a new study done at the University of Utah identified fatigue, distraction and even blood pressure problems as elements involved in many serious truck crashes. With as many as 250,000 commercial truck accidents every year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is a troubling reality.

Is there any way to improve safety?

In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration changed a law governing when truckers must take breaks. The purpose was to reduce truck driver fatigue. Supply Chain Digest explains that due to opposition, Congress put a stay on the rule and ordered the FMCSA to conduct additional research. That has now been done and JOC.com notes that a full report could be available by year's end.

Improving vigilance against impaired driving is the goal of a new rule soon to be live. The Commercial Carrier Journal explains that a new database will house detailed records about drivers' substance testing and violations.

Drivers will be required to submit to and pass drug and alcohol tests before being hired for a commercial driving position. Anyone who does not agree to such testing will be ineligible for driving jobs.

Employers will be required to review the records before hiring drivers and once per year thereafter. Bulk Transporter adds that random substance tests of drivers are also being conducted.

How many people die in truck accidents in Oklahoma?

In 2013, 112 fatalities were recorded across the state in large truck crashes. The year before, that number was 124. In looking at Cleveland County and nearby counties, the following fatalities occurred between 2009 and 2013:

  • In Oklahoma County, 38 truck fatalities occurred.
  • Grady and Canadian Counties each experienced 13 truck fatalities.
  • Lincoln County lost 12 people in truck accidents.
  • Eight people died in Pottawatomie County
  • Seven lives were lost in McClain County

In Cleveland County, another three people were killed in large truck accidents. Put together, these counties experienced a total of 94 deaths in these crashes over the five years.

How can victims get help?

Contacting an experience lawyer as soon as possible after a truck accident is important. This is a good way to get assistance seeking appropriate compensation.