Intoxicated drivers are a threat to the lives and safety of others under any circumstances. Behind the wheel of a fully loaded 18-wheeler, however, an alcohol or drug-impaired truck driver is a particularly deadly menace for others sharing the road, street or highway.
In collisions between passenger vehicles and large commercial trucks, it is not usually the truck drivers who suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that, of the 3,660 people killed in large truck crashes in 2014, only 16% were occupants of large trucks. The remaining fatalities were passenger vehicle occupants (68%) and motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians (15%).
Large commercial trucks weigh 20 to 30 times as much as passenger cars. They also have much higher ground clearance, so smaller vehicles may underride them in a crash – typically with tragic outcomes. Big rigs require 20 to 40% more distance to stop than smaller passenger vehicles, and truck brake failure contributes frequently to truck crashes. Added to these factors, an intoxicated truck driver operating such a vehicle presents a serious risk for every motorist or passenger in the area.
At Cullan & Cullan LLC, our Nebraska truck accident lawyers have years of experience successfully representing injured truck accident victims. We are physicians, as well as attorneys, and we bring our specialist knowledge to the cases we handle, to our clients’ advantage.
How Common Are Intoxicated Truck Driver Accidents?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a major study of contributing factors to large truck accidents, known as the Large Truck Crash Causation Study. In its analysis brief of this study, FMCSA lists the associated factors assigned to large trucks involved in collisions, their relative risk importance, and the number of collisions and percentage of total crashes associated with each factor.
Driver intoxication played a significant role in the large truck crashes:
- Over-the-counter truck driver drug use was a factor in 25,000 collisions (17% of the total), with relative risk importance assigned at 1.3.
- Illegal drug use by truck drivers played a role in 3,000 large truck accidents (2% of the total), with relative risk importance of 1.8.
- Alcohol-impaired truck drivers contributed to 1,000 large truck crashes (1% of the total), with 5.8 relative risk importance.
Laws and Regulations Prohibiting Large Commercial Truck Driver Intoxication
Commercial truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers in the matter of alcohol impairment. While the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) of adult passenger vehicle drivers is .08% in every state in the U.S., commercial truck drivers are considered alcohol-impaired at .04% BAC or higher in most states, including Nebraska.
Under FMCSA regulations, truck drivers are subject to license suspension or revocation upon conviction of DUI. They are also subject to pre-employment, post-accident, and random testing for alcohol and drugs, including:
- Amphetamines and methamphetamines
If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by an intoxicated truck driver, it is important to act quickly to obtain skilled legal representation. Contact our Omaha personal injury attorneys at Cullan & Cullan LLC today at (402) 882-7080 for a free case consultation.