The movement toward marijuana legalization in this country is growing by leaps and bounds — and that’s changing a lot of different industries in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Trucking is one of them.
Even though there are numerous laws and regulations that are designed to prevent impaired drivers from being on the road, experts believe that marijuana legalization may be leading to a false sense of safety among both drivers and the companies for which they work. Drivers may think that a medical marijuana prescription makes it okay to use when they’re on the road.
Part of the problem is that drugged driving is not considered as serious as drunk driving in public opinion — as long as the drug is legal. Many people — including commercial drivers — fail to recognize that just about any prescription drug can have side effects that interfere with a person’s concentration, alertness, reaction times, depth perception and judgment. Even over-the-counter drugs, which can be purchased by any adult who wants them, can cause impairments. The problem can be further exacerbated when drugs are mixed.
Experts say that legalization has produced cannabis strains that are more potent than ever, which means that they’re even more likely to cause some functional impairment. One study found that three-fourths of drivers who tested positive for marijuana in their systems following a fatal crash also tested positive for other intoxicating or potentially-impairing substances, whether that was alcohol, other kinds of drugs or both.
Every commercial driver has a duty to avoid using any substance that can alter their functioning or leave them impaired. Every trucking company has an obligation to police their drivers and watch for signs of intoxication or drug use. If you were injured in a crash with an impaired commercial driver or your loved one was killed, find out what you can do to obtain the compensation you need to move forward.