Several states modified their laws to allow the use of medical or recreational marijuana. During the controversy regarding these changes, there has been little public discussion regarding the consequences that could impact the safety of others, including the possibility that impaired drivers could cause serious crashes involving commercial vehicles. Trucking companies here in Kentucky and elsewhere are hoping law enforcement can adapt to prevent impaired driving accidents.
The American Transportation Research Institute published a study that addressed the need for law enforcement to develop effective tools to handle the issue of marijuana-impaired drivers. Though states have revised their drug laws, police do not have the tools needed to combat the threat that these drivers may pose to others. While there are effective means to correctly identify those who are impaired by alcohol use, there is currently no standard methods to accurately test a motorist who is believed to be under the influence of marijuana.
Currently, one of the only means available to law enforcement is the deployment of officers who are designated as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). Unfortunately, there is serious shortage of trained personnel who can detect the signs of drug impairment. The only other tool available to law enforcement is blood testing, but this is limited to confirming past use of the drug and not detecting whether a person is currently under the influence. The issue of impaired drivers has become a top safety concern for the trucking industry.
The majority of safety-sensitive employers, such as those who own and operate commercial vehicles, have strict policies in place that require drug testing and dismissal of employees who test positive. However, with the easing of drug laws in various states, more individuals may be tempted to drive while impaired. Kentucky residents who have been injured in a crash caused by an impaired or otherwise negligent driver may be entitled to seek recovery of their monetary damages through the civil courts.