Operating a Big Rig while Alcohol-impaired: Truck Drivers Should Know Better

Dec 4, 2016 by

As reported by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), use of alcohol and drugs by truck drivers is the second most common cause of accidents involving big rigs, 18-wheelers, semi-trailers or trailer-trucks. Due to the enormous size of these vehicles, an alcohol-impaired driver behind the wheel completes the threat of a possible accident that can easily result to severe injuries or death (impaired-driving refers not only to alcohol intoxication but also to the use of illegal drugs (narcotics) or legal drugs (over-the-counter and prescription medicine).

Operating Class 8 trucks, which include big rigs and other commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) above 33000 lb., requires that the driver has a commercial driver’s license, possesses the necessary skills in the safe operation of a truck, is not feeling fatigued or sleepy, and is not impaired or intoxicated.

To make sure that truck drivers do not sit behind the wheel impaired, the government has set 0.04% as their legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit. A driving under the influence (DUI) charge and heavy punishments will be faced by those who will be caught with this BAC level while driving. Those who will register a 0.02% BAC level when pulled over or checked at sobriety checkpoints may not be charged with a DUI offense, however, they can still be issued a 24-hour driving suspension. These limits, by the way, are only for drivers who will be discovered to have said BAC levels while operating a truck; those who are off-duty, but register a 0.08% BAC may still incur a DUI charge.

Despite the BAC limits and the anti-drunk driving laws, data shows that prior to crashes, many drivers were either intoxicated or alcohol-impaired. This is because many drivers consume a bottle or two during stopovers, some also choose to bring along extra bottles which will keep them company during the long, tiring and lonely long drives between counties.

For drivers of big rigs, staying sober while on duty is a legal responsibility. It has been explained, time and again, that alcohol- impairment can lessen their ability to safely operate their truck. The risk of injury and death, especially to drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles, is the reason why drunk-driving has been made illegal. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 5,000 small vehicle occupants die every year in accidents where trucks are involved; number of deaths among truck drivers, on the other hand, number to about 700.

As explained by Evans Moore, though the threat of truck accidents may be significantly mitigated by trucking companies that uphold safety standards and drivers who are well-trained, there are still operators who pose a threat by driving under stressful or dangerous conditions. Serious lapses in judgment contribute to truck accidents with some regularity. Sadly, the injuries often sustained in these accidents are severe and can leave victims and their families without any real means of covering the financial burden associated with the recovery process.

To be able to pursue the compensation that can help truck accident victims get the medical treatment they necessarily need to have, representation from a seasoned personal injury lawyer may prove to be an advantage.

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