Alcohol Use and Truck Accidents

According to national statistics, approximately 5,000 people are killed each year in commercial truck accidents. It should be no surprise that this number is so high. Almost 70 percent of all goods in this country are delivered via the trucking industry. When these trucks aren’t operated correctly, the outcome can be tragic. Weighing upwards of 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, these vehicles can cause catastrophic damage in a crash.

There are many reasons why truck accidents occur. Unfortunately, one of the most common causes is alcohol use by the driver operating the truck. When a driver is under the influence of alcohol, they often are distracted, disregard speed limits and other traffic laws, or engage in other risky driving behaviors. While truck drivers have a lower rate of documented alcohol-related crashes than other drivers, the outcome of trucking accidents is often far more tragic because of the massive size and weight of these vehicles.

While the number of drunk driving accidents is lower, the number of truck drivers who admit to drinking while driving is alarming. In one study, half of the truck drivers participating admitted to using alcohol on the road, and 30 percent admitted to using amphetamines to stay awake during long-distance hauling. Researchers also found that just under 15 percent of all commercial truck drivers in this country tested for alcohol while driving tested positive.

Federal Regulations

Federal regulations state that a commercial truck driver cannot consume any alcohol within four hours of going on duty. On duty is defined as operating a vehicle, inspecting and maintaining their vehicle, loading and unloading, and waiting for their vehicle to be loaded. If a truck driver has consumed alcohol within a four-hour window, they are not allowed to be on duty for 24 hours.

Alcohol’s Effect

Alcohol can have a significant impact on operating any vehicle, but even more so with commercial trucks. Some of these impacts include:

  • Alcohol affects a driver’s vision, reaction time, muscle coordination, and critical skills used for operating a vehicle.
  • Commercial trucks are everywhere, from highways to rural roads. This puts anyone traveling on the same roads as a truck driver under the influence of alcohol at risk of injury or death.
  • Approximately 20 percent of truck drivers involved in truck accidents have a history of prior crashes.
  • Statistics show that more than 70 percent of people killed in truck accidents are occupants of the other vehicles.
  • Statistics also show that 80 percent of trucks involved in fatal truck accident weigh more than 26,000 pounds. A truck driver under the influence of alcohol may not be able to maintain complete control of heavily loaded trucks.

Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney

Victims of truck accidents can pursue damages against those party or parties responsible for the crash. Some of the losses that a victim can be awarded financial compensation for medical expenses, loss of income and benefits, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, scarring, disfigurement, and more. If the victim dies from their injuries, their survivors may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit for the loss of their loved ones.

If you have been injured in any type of truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. We can also assist families whose loved ones have been killed in a crash. Truck accident cases can be complex, and it is not uncommon for there to be multiple at-fault parties who are responsible for the payment of financial damages you may be entitled to for your injuries. The legal team at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn have been advocating for accident victims for more than three decades. Our personal injury firm has successfully represented many injured victims and their families and we are happy to meet with you and offer legal guidance on what the best options may be for your circumstances.