Intoxication is a very real element in trucking accidents, however, it may not be the kind of intoxication you expect. Today, alcohol is involved in a very small percentage of these accidents. Stimulants have taken over, due to the high rate of driver fatigue, crackdowns on drunk driving, and sadly, the unethical practices of trucking companies themselves.
Years ago drinking and driving was a major cause of trucking accidents. That had almost become a thing of the past. While it is still true that even a small amount of alcohol, or even a hangover for that matter, can mean a fatal accident, alcohol is only a factor in about one to three percent of trucking accidents.
Laws concerning trucking and alcohol are extremely strict, much stricter than DUI laws for drivers of passenger vehicles. The legal BAC (blood alcohol content) for drivers of passenger vehicles is below .08%. For truck drivers that is cut in half, it is illegal for them to drive with a BAC of .04% or higher. Additionally, they are prohibited from any alcohol use while on the job or for four hours prior to going on duty. Being on duty extends beyond just driving and includes the time spent loading and inspecting their loads.
Much more common today, with truck drivers, is the use of illegal stimulants. This is directly connected to fatigue and unrealistic schedules imposed by trucking companies. Driver fatigue is a factor in about 40% of all trucking accidents. Virtually all truck drivers contend with driver fatigue at some point in their careers, and for many it is a chronic problem. This is where stimulants come into play.
While it’s not an acceptable excuse, it is still the reality. Drivers face fatigue and that fatigue is due, in part, to the unrealistic schedules they must maintain to make a living. In order to keep going, many drivers turn to cocaine and methamphetamines which can cloud their judgment and create paranoia and confusion, leading to an accident.
Trucking companies are required to conduct frequent drug screenings of their drivers, but most experienced drivers know how to beat these tests.
Alcohol and drug violations can cause truck driver to lose their CDL and therefore their livelihood, even if there is no accident and in accidents where no one is hurt. Due to this threat and stricter laws, driver intoxication is down, but it is still a very real factor in the trucking world. That means it is a very real factor in your world when you get on the road.
If you or a loved on has been injured or killed in a trucking accident, contact an experienced trucking accident lawyer today.