A commercial truck driver who is impaired by alcohol or drugs is violating the law and putting everyone sharing the roadway at extreme risk of death or injury. A fully-loaded commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and any contact with another vehicle usually leads to disaster. Although commercial truck drivers are far less likely to be arrested for a DUI offense than regular drivers, it does occur. Drivers holding commercial driver licenses who are convicted of DUI will have their license revoked.
After a truck accident involving injuries or fatalities, law enforcement agencies will conduct an investigation into the facts. Commercial truck drivers are tested for the presence of alcohol or drugs if they are involved in a fatal accident or get cited in an accident involving an injury or a vehicle-disabling crash. An impaired truck driver is criminally negligent, and must be held accountable for what happened. At Burch, George & Germany, we represent victims in truck accident cases, and families who have lost a loved one in one of these avoidable crashes.
Accident statistics compiled by the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office show a total of 5,182 truck accidents in 2013. These accidents caused 192 incapacitating injuries, and 487 other injuries as well as 90 deaths.
The statistics indicate that among the drivers of large trucks involved in crashes in Oklahoma in 2013, 15 commercial truck drivers were cited for driving under the influence of alcohol and six were cited for driving while impaired with drugs.
By comparison, 48 drivers of passenger vehicles involved in crashes with 18 wheelers were cited for drunken driving and 20 drivers were cited for driving while impaired by drugs.
Nationwide, 4 percent of fatally injured truck drivers were legally intoxicated by alcohol and 33 percent of passenger car drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Drug or alcohol intoxication interferes with a truck driver’s ability to react quickly, correctly, or make decisions if a sudden incident demands a fast response. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires that all commercial drivers holding a commercial drivers’ license and operating commercial vehicles such as tractor trailers or buses be tests for drugs and alcohol. The testing requirement applies to commercial truck drivers for government agencies, owner-operator truck drivers, and part-time drivers.
It is almost incomprehensible to think that a commercial truck driver would actually get behind the wheel of a big rig while impaired – but the stats show that it does happen. These irresponsible truck drivers must be held accountable for the harm that they cause to other motorists after serious accidents.
The trucking company also may be held liable if the company allowed a dangerous driver with a history of DUIs or failed tests to stay on the road. Trucking companies have a legal responsibility to conduct pre-employment testing and random drug and alcohol testing to identify unsafe drivers and get them off the road.
The legal team at Burch, George & Germany has experience representing families harmed by truck accidents, and we are prepared to evaluate your case and advise you how much your injury claim is worth, how your case is expected to unfold, and how long it may take to get a settlement. In a case of truck driver intoxication, the trucking firm and driver must be held accountable. If there is any push-back from the insurance company, as trial lawyers, we are more than capable of taking the case to a jury for a decision. Call now for the professional help you need in a truck accident injury case.