You hear about our drug epidemic all the time. The U.S. had an estimated 64,000 deaths due to drug overdoses just in 2016. These are government statistics so you know the numbers are higher. It's crazy that as more and more people are popping these highly addictive drugs -- sometimes before or while they drive --most commercial truck companies were not even being tested. The Department of Transportation has long required testing of other drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, and the illegal opioid heroin, and of course alcohol. Finally the DOT has caught up with the times. Semi-synthetic opioids were added to the mandatory panel starting January 1. Finally. Employers at 18-wheeler companies must now test their drivers for four popular prescription medications: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. How many truckers take opioid drugs? Because testing was not required, there is no way to know. Often truck drivers were only tested after they crashed their tractor trailers and hurt others. But, 11.5 million people abused opioids in 2016 and as the DOT announcement noted "transportation industries are not immune to this trend and the safety issues it raises.”
On Friday the Dallas County Medical Examiner released its autopsy report that revealed that the truck driver who caused this crash was high on meth. The Mt. Pleasant High track team was headed home after a meet recently when a tractor-trailer crossed the center line and headed straight for their bus. The track coach fortunately swerved out of the way, narrowly avoiding a head-on collision. However the assistant coach following the bus in this car was struck head on and tragically died. The school bus toppled over and skidded across the road, resulting in injuries to 18 students and the coach driving the bus. The 18-wheeler driver also died.