When compared to normal car accidents, vehicle collisions that involve large trucks are far more serious in Philadelphia. Truck accidents include vehicles that are far heavier and higher off the ground than normal cars and are often traveling at the kinds of speeds you see on highways rather than on back roads. As a result, truck accidents often create property damage and personal injuries that are far worse than what you would expect in a regular car accident. To make matters even worse, the innocent drivers in passenger vehicles are far more likely to be the ones who suffer the most in a truck accident. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in truck accidents involving a large truck and a car that resulted in a fatality, 97% of those fatalities were occupants in the car involved, compared to only 3% from the truck.
Despite these extreme dangers, truck drivers still drive while impaired on a regular basis in the Philadelphia area, causing thousands of truck accidents every year because they are under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. If one of these accidents should ever happen to you or to someone you love, you need legal representation to get the financial compensation that you deserve for the losses you have been forced to go through.
Drunk Truck Driving
Driving while under the influence is one of the most highly-publicized crimes in the U.S., thanks in large part to advocacy efforts by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Part of their political efforts to increase the penalties for drunk driving laws has been to research and make public statistics showing how dangerous it is to be drunk while behind the wheel of a car.
Unfortunately, those numbers do not quite apply to truck drivers. Commercial drivers have to abide by stricter standards when it comes to blood alcohol content (BAC) and can face far more severe penalties if they violate the law. Therefore, they are much less likely to be driving their vehicles while drunk, making any statistics showing how often car drivers drive while inebriated inapplicable to drunk truck drivers.
This is why a study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from 2001 through 2003 is still so important. After investigating 967 truck accidents in 17 different states, the FMCSA found that alcohol was only a factor in a tiny fraction of the crashes – only 0.8%. This study is one of the only ones that focused exclusively on truckers and trucking accidents, and looked at the impact alcohol played in them. Its findings suggest that the lower BAC limit that drivers face in most states and Pennsylvania – 0.04%, as recommended by the FMCSA – as well as the strict license suspension and revocation process have been an effective deterrent for truck drivers: If they can lose their license, which is the source of a commercial driver's income, for driving while half as drunk as a regular car driver, many truckers play it safe.
Drugged Truck Driving
The same cannot be said for drugged truck drivers.
There are many ways to impair yourself, and alcohol is only one of them. Many different kinds of drugs, including many that can be gotten over the counter and without a doctor's prescription, can come with side effects that inebriate people to the point where it would be unsafe for them to drive. Unfortunately, while people who have had too much alcohol to drink have elevated BAC levels, many of these drugs do not come with a tell-tale sign that a driver is under their influence. As a result, it is far more difficult to enforce impaired driving laws when a driver is drugged than when they are drunk – police simply do not have the means to detect drugged drivers like they have breathalyzers to find drunk ones. As a result, the deterrent effect that likely keeps truck drivers from driving while drunk does not exist to keep them from drugged driving.
The numbers from the FMCSA's study back this notion up. According to their data, nearly half of the truck accidents that they investigated involved a truck driver being under the influence of drugs of some kind. In 26.3% of the truck accidents in the study, the trucker was impaired by a prescription drug, many of which warn users not to operate heavy machinery, like a truck, while taking it. 17.3% of the accidents involved a truck driver who was under the influence of an over-the-counter drug, most of which can still have serious side effects. Finally, truck drivers who were under the influence of an illegal drug, like marijuana or cocaine, contributed to 2.3% of the crashes in the FMCSA's study.
Unfortunately, the problem of drugged truckers is not an easy one to solve. There are so many different kinds of drugs that can impair someone's ability to drive that police are not even close to being able to detect them while in the field. For the foreseeable future, at least, truck drivers will be able to drive while inebriated by drugs with relative impunity, leaving others on the road to fend for themselves.
Philadelphia Truck Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Truck accidents are serious. To know that many truck drivers take your safety on the road so lightly that they would drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs so often is a shock to many.
Enforcing your legal rights to compensation after being the victim of an accident caused by a drunk or drugged truck driver is one of the best ways to prevent it from happening, again. If truckers know that they will be brought to court to pay compensation for the injuries they have caused, they will be far less likely to risk someone else's safety again by driving while impaired.
This is where the personal injury attorneys at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help. By getting you the compensation you need and deserve, you can make a full recovery and do what you can to make this problem leave our city. Contact us online or call us at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.