Truck drivers spend long hours driving on the nation’s roads and days away from their families. Spending all this time behind the wheel of these huge vehicles can be stressful enough, now add the loneliness from being away from your family and the special days and events, like school plays and birthdays, that you may be missing, it is no wonder that many long-distance truck drivers turn to alcohol. In fact, according to statistics from American Addiction Centers, more than half of truck drivers surveyed admit to abusing alcohol while on the job. If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident caused by a truck driver who was under the influence of alcohol, call Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to speak with one of our Virginia truck accident attorneys to find out what legal recourse you have.
Drunk Driving Laws
Commercial drivers have different rules to follow under the laws of the state of Virginia, as well as the federal government. Virginia prohibits alcohol consumption for truck drivers who are on duty. And instead of a BAC of .08 percent, both Virginia and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) consider a commercial truck driver under the influence if their BAC is .04 percent.
The FMCSA forbids truck drivers from drinking up to four hours before being on duty. The agency also requires trucking companies to make sure drivers do not disobey these rules. Drivers are also subject to random alcohol and drug tests and are not allowed to refuse testing.
Alcohol-Related Truck Accidents
According to national statistics, more than 10,000 victims die because of alcohol-related vehicle accidents. Thousands more suffer serious to severe injuries. Many people don’t realize it, but even low blood alcohol content can have an impact on a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely, including affecting their decision-making ability which can lead to accidents.
Some of the more common effects alcohol can have on a truck driver includes:
- A decrease in reaction time: When a person drinks and drives, their reaction to what is going on around them is significantly slowed down. The more blood alcohol content in the driver’s system, the more the driver may struggle with trying to control the vehicle they are operating. This is even more difficult for truck drivers who are operating massive vehicles that need special training to operate.
- Loss of motor skill control: The more the driver drinks, the less control they have over their motor skills, especially those needed to navigate the truck on the road.
- Impairment of the ability to make decisions: A drunk driver is more likely to run red lights, speed, or obey other traffic rules than a driver who is sober. Drunk drivers are also more prone to aggressive driving and road rage episodes.
- Vision issues: The more alcohol a driver has consumed, the more difficulty they have with vision focus, making it harder to judge what is happening on the road in front of them.
A commercial truck driver who has taken to drinking on a regular basis may become overconfident, thinking they have no problem operating their vehicle when they have been drinking. They fail to realize they are putting themselves and others on the road at dangerous risk because the alcohol does impact their ability to navigate and operate the huge vehicle. They fail to realize that their skills and coordination needed to operate their truck is affected by the alcohol.
It is well documented that truck accidents are often more catastrophic than other types of vehicle accidents. Some of the more common injuries victims suffer include:
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Soft tissue damage
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic brain injury
Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accidents are more complex than other types of vehicle accidents and often have more than one at-fault party. Victims of truck accidents should consider retaining the services of an experienced Virginia truck accident attorney who will conduct a thorough investigation of the crash, including obtaining maintenance records and other critical information that will help determine the cause of the crash and which parties are responsible.
If you or a family member has been injured in a truck accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a crash, contact a seasoned Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. At Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn our injury attorneys have successfully represented numerous truck accident victims and have the legal expertise to handle these complex cases with positive results.