Both legal and illegal substances can affect cognition and response time, and impaired drivers – regardless of whether the substance is illegal or not – put everyone on the road at risk.
Types of Legal Substances that Can Affect Driving
Prescription drugs, over-the-counter products, and legal stimulants are examples of legal substances that affect driving ability. In fact, prescription and over-the-counter drug use is one of the top associated factors in truck accidents, reports the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Types of legal substances that can cause truck driver impairment include:
- anti-seizure medications;
- sleep medications;
- anti-anxiety medication; and
- narcotic analgesics.
The Effects of Legal Substances on Driving Ability
Certain medications and legal substances can cause a whole spectrum of side effects that can impair a trucker’s ability to drive safely. Some potential side effects include:
- compromised decision making;
- impaired coordination;
- dizziness; and
- impaired reaction times.
A Huge Gap in Current National Standards
Unfortunately, there is no set of guidelines that explain how certain legal substances affect a person’s body or to what extent they cause impairment. While we have the breath test and blood alcohol content levels to determine a legal driving limit for alcohol use, no such standards exist for driving impairment from other legal drugs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims to be working on it, though. In the 2009 Traffic Safety Facts research report, NHTSA explains: “Determining which drugs and dosage levels impair driving related skills is a large undertaking, given the number of potentially impairing drugs. NHTSA has convened an expert panel to begin identifying methods for assessing impairment, and some laboratory research has been conducted on a number of high-priority drugs to measure the effect of drug dosage on driving-related skills.”
Proving Truck Driver Impairment in an Injury Claim
Because there is currently no “over-the-counter drug breathalyzer,” proving the truck driver’s liability in court will have to rely on other sources of evidence.
Proving the case will depend on:
- witness reports regarding the driver’s actions;
- the truck driver’s logs (if he or she broke laws regarding truck driving time limits);
- facts regarding the driver’s behavior (swerving, reckless behavior, slow reaction time); and
- laboratory evidence that the driver had a legal substance in his or her system that has potentially impairing side effects.
A Truck Driver Attorney Can Help Prove Your Case
These cases will be quite difficult to prove. Not only will evidence be difficult to compile, but also the trucking company will have attorneys defending it. This is why it’s crucial that victims or their families have an attorney representing them and working diligently on their behalf.
When you decide to work with a law firm, your attorney will access field experts, such as laboratory experts, who may be able to prove the potential effects a legal substance had on the truck driver’s driving abilities.
If you or a loved one was involved in a truck accident in or around the Denver area that was caused by an impaired driver, contact accident lawyer D.J. Banovitz. We will provide you with a free consultation and discuss how best to handle your claim for compensation. Call (303) 300-5060 today.