Current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations allow truck drivers to use prescription medicines such as pain killers as long as they have been prescribed by a licensed physician. Those rules may be changing slightly if the FMCSA acts on the recommendations made by two advisory committees on Monday. While the recommendations would still allow for truck drivers to use legally prescribed medications, they would require the driver's physician to complete a questionnaire that would be used by medical examiners in an evaluation of whether the driver is fit to receive medical certification to drive.
Other recommendations from the advisory board would require drivers who are taking prescription medicines to renew their medical certification every year, rather than the current rate of every other year. Additionally, off duty drivers would not be able to use the prescription drug for up to 12 hours prior to beginning a scheduled driving shift.
Opiates & Truck Crashes
The impetus of the recommendations is the growing concern over the use of opioids such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and fentanyl as medications to treat chronic pain. Those drugs are prescribed frequently in the United States—even for mild pain complaints such as tooth aches. Taken improperly, the pain killers can be highly addictive and impair a driver's ability to operate the truck in a safe manner. In fact, a recent European study showed that opiate use increases the risk of a commercial truck accident.
Recommendations Sent To FMCSA
The advisory committee believes these recommendations will provide an added layer of screening that will help the FMCSA evaluate the medical certifications that drivers must obtain if they are being prescribed any of these medications. The recommendations were voted on by the advisory committees and will be taken to the FMCSA for approval.
Truck Driver Drug Use
Drug and alcohol use is a common cause of truck accidents. Statistics show that in 44% of fatal truck accidents, the driver was impaired by either drugs or alcohol. An impaired driver is a danger to other cars on the road, but this is especially true of commercial truck drivers simply due to the sheer size and weight of the vehicles they are operating. For this reason, the FMCSA has placed the legal blood alcohol level for commercial truck drivers at 0.04%—half the legal limit for a private motorist.
If you have been injured in a truck accident that may have been caused by an impaired truck driver, contact out truck accident attorneys today.