Can Truck Drivers Take Prescription Drugs?

Can Truck Drivers Take Prescription Drugs?

Truckers are no different from other motorists in that they may suffer from a wide variety of medical conditions that perhaps, unbeknownst to them, can affect their ability to safely operate a vehicle.

Sometimes drivers don’t even know that they have a certain diagnosis until they cause a crash, injuring themselves or hurting others in the process.

While it’s understandable that someone may have a health condition and be unaware of it or experience a medical emergency, this is far more potentially dangerous if a trucker loses consciousness behind the wheel or suffers some other debilitating medical event.

The thought of this happening leads many to wonder, “Can truck drivers take prescription drugs?”

The Type of Medication Involved Matters

A quick response to the question posed above is that the drug a trucker plans to take matters. If it has the potential of impacting a trucker’s ability to safely operate their commercial motor vehicle (CMV), then they’re likely forbidden from taking it and then getting behind the wheel of their tractor-trailer.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule 6.3.3. Drugs (392.4) spells out how CMV operators cannot possess, be under the influence of, or be on duty after consuming the following medications or substances:

  • Any Schedule I drugs, a category that includes opioids, psychedelics or hallucinogens, stimulants, depressants, or cannabimimetic agents
  • Abused or misused prescription drugs or marijuana, even if a trucker has a medical marijuana card
  • Any narcotics or their derivatives
  • Products containing amphetamines

Given how no drugs that impair a driver’s ability to safely operate their truck are acceptable, under what types of medications might be appropriate? As long as they are prescribed and taken per a licensed medical provider’s instructions and don’t affect their driving, it seems like most medications would be safe for truckers to take.

Why Truckers Take Prescription (and Illicit) Drugs

Life as a truck driver isn’t easy. Long-haul truckers, in particular, spend long hours alone in the cab of their tractor-trailers. They rely heavily on a C.B. radio or perhaps their phones, a spotty internet connection, and maybe a random conversation at a truck stop for socialization.

Encountering road construction zones, traffic congestion, driving in inclement weather, and operating on tight deadlines can be stressful. Plus, the food options are limited out on the road.

Considering all of the factors above, it’s no wonder this population has high rates of hypertension, depression, diabetes, and other chronic, debilitating illnesses.

In many cases, this is what leads truckers to seek medical treatment, resulting in them being prescribed prescription drugs. Others attempt to soothe themselves with alcohol and illicit drugs, although they know it’s illegal for them to do so.

What Initiatives Exist To Minimize Trucker Drug Abuse

The FMCSA and U.S. Department of Transportation drug and alcohol testing program focuses on ensuring truckers stay clean, sober, and safe.

That initiative is, first and foremost, a preventative one focused on equipping fleet companies and truckers alike to understand the dangers associated with substance abuse and also recognize signs of problems.

Your Options If a Trucker Was Taking Prohibited Prescription Drugs When They Hit You

Ideally, we’d all look out for one another when operating our vehicles and never have to worry about a fellow motorist and the poor choices they made before getting behind the wheel or while driving.

This is, unfortunately, not something we can do, though. We must all be hyper-vigilant for signs someone may be distracted, sleepy, intoxicated, and even experiencing a medical emergency or that isn’t responding well to a medication they took.

If you had the misfortune of being involved in an injury crash in Spokane with a large truck, our team at Trucking Injury Law Group wants to help you. We offer free consultations to front-end truck accident victims and those involved in other types of collisions who want to better understand whether they’re eligible to recover compensation to pay for their medical bills, lost wages, and other crash-related losses.

So, if you suspect a trucker’s use of prescription drugs led to you suffering harm, reach out to discuss your potential case.