According to statistics, driver impairment is among the most common reasons for a truck accident to occur. In many cases, alcohol is less of a problem than is drug abuse. Truck drivers are notorious for consuming various drugs to remain alert during their long hauls. Unfortunately for their victims, these drivers cause catastrophic levels of damage, and many people have lost loved ones to this reckless behavior.
If you believe that a drunk driver contributed to your crash, then you are in need of a helping hand. We at The Lenahan Law Firm have years of experience working with victims of drunk truck drivers, and we understand just how devastating these collisions can be. If you want to talk, call our Dallas truck accident attorneys at (214) 295-1008 today.
Commercial vehicle drivers are held to higher safety standards than other drivers because of their time spent on the road and the impact of the vehicle if an accident does occur. For commercial vehicle operators, the legal blood alcohol content level is 0.04%, which is about half of the legal limit for drivers of regular vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also states that truck drivers cannot consume alcohol within four hours of their shift.
This higher standard for truck drivers is primarily due to the size of their vehicles. A standard passenger vehicle can cause serious damage during a collision. However, trucks weigh about 16 times as much as a standard car and are much larger. This drastic increase in size and weight means that trucks are capable of driving directly over cars and will not be slowed to a stop until they have already crushed dozens of vehicles. A drunk truck driver is far more likely to lose control of his vehicle, and an out-of-control truck can take countless lives, leaving a trail of destruction behind it.
Truck drivers are required to submit to random tests to assess the presence of alcohol and drugs in their system. Trucking companies are given the authority to administer a blood and alcohol test to their employees who seem suspicious. In fact, truck companies are required to administer random tests to 10% of their employees every year. If a driver refuses to submit to a test, their job will be on the line. Even with these trucking regulations in place, truck accidents from drug or alcohol intoxication is a prevalent problem.
While trucking companies are required to test their drivers and are free to fire any drivers who fail or refuse the test, not all trucking companies hold themselves or their drivers to the expected standard. Training new drivers takes time, and time means lost money to these companies. So many companies elect to keep already trained drivers, even if the driver has proven to be dangerous.
On top of that, in Texas, all truck drivers are required to submit themselves to a drug and alcohol test following a collision. If the test is positive for drugs or alcohol, the trucking company may try to cover it up. Trucking companies are known for their underhanded tactics, used to avoid taking responsibility for their drivers’ actions. Some of their tactics include shredding documentation, allowing a black box’s date to be wiped or written over, and hiding whether or not a driver was drunk. If they do resort to lies and tricks, you need an experienced attorney to run a through investigation and hold the trucking company liable.
As already mentioned, commercial truck drivers have a blood alcohol limit of .04%, which is half as much as the standard limit of .08%. Alcohol causes limitations that are especially hazardous if someone gets behind the wheel while over the legal limit. Trucks are far more dangerous than cars, and require a lot more skill to drive, meaning that truck drivers must be alert and sober, hence the lower BAC limit. Ways that a driver can be impacted by alcohol include:
Lowered concentration: Alcohol impacts the brain’s ability to form coherent thoughts. That, in turn, impacts the brain’s ability to concentrate on one task for an extended period of time. Drivers, especially truck drivers, must never be distracted from focusing on the road. That could easily lead to a serious accident.
Blurred vision: A driver’s vision will become blurred or doubled while drunk. This makes it difficult to see the road, traffic signs or lights, as well as other vehicles. With truck drivers, this could lead to driving off of the road altogether, or breaking posted traffic laws, such as speed limits or stop signs.
Slowed reaction time: A fast reaction time is key for any driver, but especially truck drivers. Our gut reactions are what allow us to avoid animals running across the road, sudden traffic, and also allow us to make tight turns. When a driver loses the ability to react, everyone on the road around is at risk, as even a couple of seconds of delay in reaction can lead to a pile-up collision and catastrophic injuries.
Reduced coordination: Hand-eye coordination, as well as other motor skills, are severely impacted by alcohol. This can leave drivers unable to properly make a tight turn, or to missing the brakes with their foot and instead hitting the accelerator. It can also cause drivers to weave on the road, unable to stay in their lane. With a truck, this is incredibly dangerous. Truck weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds and can easily crush cars beneath their wheels in a collision.
There are a number of incredibly dangerous collisions that a drunk truck driver can cause. These accidents often lead to severe injuries, property damage, and even wrongful death. They include:
Underrides: An underride accident happens when a car becomes partially stuck under a truck. Often times, these occur when a truck driver merges or turns without checking his blind spots, speeds suddenly and hits the car in front of him, or stops without properly signaling, leaving the car behind with not enough time to avoid a collision. If a truck driver is drunk, he is far more likely to make the kind of deadly mistake that leads to an underride accident.
Rollovers: Trucks have high centers of gravity, which means, despite their weight, it can be easy for them to rollover. Rollover accidents may happen when a truck driver takes a turn too quickly, causing him to lose control over the truck. When truck drivers are drunk, they are more likely to make reckless decisions like taking sharp turns quickly, which means they are also more likely to cause rollovers.
Jackknifes: When the driver of a truck loses control over the trailer, it can cause the trailer to swing out to the side, creating a 90-degree angle with the cab. The trailer is then free to crush cars in the nearby lanes, causing catastrophic damage. Drunk truck drivers are far more likely to lose control over the trailers of their trucks than sober ones.
Cargo spills: Cargo must be secured properly before transportation. During transportation, if the driver takes turns too quickly or does not slow down properly, then improperly secured cargo, such as logs, chemicals, and even groceries, can spill out across the road. This can lead to further collisions as other drivers try to avoid the cargo, as well as illness or injuries from the cargo itself. A sober truck driver is far more likely to properly secure his load than a drunk one.
If a truck driver has violated a law pertaining to drug and alcohol restrictions and this negligence has resulted in injury to yourself, we can help you hold the wrongdoer accountable. At The Lenahan Law Firm, we have an in-depth understanding of the laws and regulations that govern these industries.
To get started, schedule a free case evaluation with our Dallas injury attorneys by calling (214) 295-1008.
- The Opioid Crisis and Trucking Accidents
- Drug-Impaired Driving | NHTSA
- Impaired Driving and Penalties - DUI/DWI - Texas Department of Transportation
- Drugged Driving DrugFacts - National Institute on Drug Abuse