Being involved in a truck accident is one of the worst things that can happen on the roads of the United States. Trucks weigh nearly 30,000 pounds – ten times the average car – even when they are empty. When full, they weigh closer to 80,000 pounds. Even if they only collide with your car at a low rate of speed, a truck can do significant damage and cause severe personal injuries that can affect your life for years afterward. When there is a fatal truck accident involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle like a car, SUV or minivan, 97% of the fatalities were in the smaller vehicle.
Because of the dangers that a truck accident present, you would imagine that truck drivers would take great care to avoid them at all costs. Unfortunately, truck drivers are caught driving while impaired on a regular basis. Whenever they drive impaired, truckers are putting other innocent drivers on the road at a significant risk of a terrible or fatal injury. That it happens so often is disturbing, and makes the need to hold impaired truckers accountable all the more important.
The Problem of Impaired Truck Driving
The problem of drunk driving is well known. Advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) do lots of good work to ensure that fewer and fewer people are hurt or killed every year by inebriated drivers. However, their work does relatively little for the problem of impaired truck driving because most impaired trucking accidents are not alcohol-related.
According to a study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck accidents that result from a drunk trucker are rare. Among the estimated 77,000 accidents involving a large truck and that resulted in at least one injury covered in the study, in 0.8% of them was alcohol use by the truck driver a factor in the crash.
This is largely because truck drivers know and understand that drinking and driving is a great way to lose their license, which for many of them is the only way they earn income. All states in the U.S. hold commercial driver license (CDL) holders – which includes bus and truck drivers – to a higher standard when it comes to drunk driving. While regular drivers need to have a 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC) to be convicted for drunk driving, most states have laws that prohibit CDL holders from having a BAC above 0.04%, the legal limit recommended by the FMCSA.
Unfortunately, alcohol is not the only impairing drug on the planet. Other illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin, as well as innocuous and legal drugs like allergy medication, can also make it difficult enough to drive that anyone who does it is legally considered “under the influence.”
In fact, impaired driving that does not involve alcohol is a serious problem for truckers. According to the FMCSA's study, nearly half of the estimated 77,000 truck accidents in the study involved driver impairment from some sort of drug. 26.3% of the time, that drug was a prescription drug, which often comes with a warning not to operate heavy machinery – like a truck – while taking the drug. Over the counter drugs were a factor in another 17.3% of the crashes in the study, while illegal drugs were involved in another 2.3% of the crashes.
Drugged Truck Drivers are Difficult to Detect
Unfortunately, truck drivers who are impaired by drugs are far more difficult to detect than those who are impaired by alcohol. Police have breathalyzers and field sobriety tests that let them detect drivers who have been drinking and who are putting others at risk by being behind the wheel. However, these devices only work reliably when they are trying to find alcohol – breathalyzers are powerless at finding truck drivers who are too high to drive safely, or who are feeling the side effects of a prescription or an over the counter medication – leaving police with only their intuition to determine if a trucker is driving impaired. This is more difficult to use with trucks than it is with regular cars because it is more difficult to drive a truck in a blatantly reckless way than it is to drive a car. Trucks are too large to weave through traffic, so impaired truck drivers frequently fly under the radar of suspicion.
This means that truck drivers can drive while impaired with relative impunity until they cause an accident when they need to exercise good judgment or execute a skilled driving maneuver and find themselves unable to. Unfortunately, this can be too late for the innocent people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time and find themselves in the truck's way.
Baltimore Truck Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
If you or someone you love is one of these innocent drivers, you need legal help. The personal injuries that you have likely suffered are probably severe, or may even prove to be fatal. Even if they are not fatal, the long-term debilitations that they lead to could require extensive medical attention that could lead to financial hardship if you do not protect your legal rights to seek compensation from the responsible trucker.
This is where the personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help you or your loved one. By being your legal representative, our lawyers fight for your legal rights and interests both in and out of court to ensure you get compensated for the expenses associated with the accident that you did not cause. You are entitled to this compensation if someone else was the ultimate cause of the crash, and you deserve to receive it to make a full recovery from your injuries.
Contact us online or call our law office at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.