How often is alcohol a factor in a semi-truck accident? What happens following a commercial DUI accident? Commercial truck drivers are held to a higher standard and stricter regulations when it comes to driving drunk behind the wheel. However, strict regulations and enhanced drug/alcohol testing doesn't eliminate the risk. Truck drivers who cause accidents that cause injuries or fatalities may permanently lose their ability to operate a commercial vehicle. While drunk driving is one problem, driving with amphetamines, Adderall, methamphetamine, cocaine and other stimulants is an entirely different problem.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that each day 29 people die in alcohol related crashes. In 2015, there were 10,265 alcohol related fatalities which represented approximately 29% of all motor vehicle accident fatalities that year. DUI accidents should not happen and they especially should not happen with truck drivers. The total number of DUI related fatalities rose slightly to 10,469 in 2016 which represented 28% of total fatalities.
Data gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that 8% of fatal accidents in 2015 involved commercial truck drivers operating large vehicles at the time of the accident. That year, 48,613 drivers were involved in fatal accidents. Of these, 9,649, or 20%, had a BAC that was greater than .08% at the time of their accident. Unfortunately, this drunk driving by truck drivers happens more often than anyone would like. Of all drivers involved in fatal accidents in 2015, 3,996 were commercial truck drivers. Of these, 60, or 2%, had BAC's greater than .08% when they caused a commercial DUI accident. Many of their victims died from the trauma inflicted by the semis, tractor-trailers and motor carriers.
For comparison, in 2006, there were 57,846 drivers who were involved in fatal accidents. Of these, 12,551, or 22% had a BAC greater than .08%. That year, 4,729 commercial truck drivers were involved in fatal accidents. Of these, 54, or 1% had BAC's in excess of .08% when they caused a commercial DUI accident. Bad drivers that driver while drinking alcohol or consuming illegal drugs are a rising problem for the trucking industry. While the number of drivers involved in DUI accidents is declining, the number of commercial truck drivers involved in DUI accidents has doubled in the past ten years even as regulators have passed stricter regulations and testing requirements.
While most states set the threshold for DUI at .08% for the general public, under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), it is only .04% for commercial truck drivers while they are operating a commercial vehicle. The operation of a hazardous instrument of death like a tractor-trailer or large truck should always be treated differently than the operation of a car. Furthermore, the FMCSR prohibits CDL holders from operating a commercial motor vehicle within four hours following the consumption of alcohol. CDL holders who are convicted of a traffic violation, including DUI, are required to notify their employer within 30 days of the conviction. Trucking companies should immediately terminate convicted truck drivers and should never employ truck drivers with DUI convictions.
Under current regulations, the employer is prohibited from employing the driver until after the suspension or revocation period of the license has elapsed. These rules help protect motorists from the dangers posed by negligent CDL holders. The rules are meant to protect drivers who are not truck drivers. The motoring public needs to have these regulations in place for protection. Enforcement of these rules is crucial as the data gathered by the NHTSA shows a strong correlation between the individual's 5-year driving history and the likelihood that the driver will be involved in a fatal DUI accident if they have previous convictions for DUI, speeding, and other reckless driving behaviors.
Brad Pistotnik Law is a trucking accident law firm with attorneys, lawyers and abogados who represent clients in Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Florida, Missouri, Illinois and across the United States who experience a commercial DUI accident involving a large vehicle. Whether the accident occurred in Abiline, Bel Aire, Wichita, Garden City, Guymon, , Newton, McPherson, Ulysses, Goodland, Hutchinson, Manhattan, Lawrence, Junction City, Pratt, Pittsburg, Paola, Bonner Springs, Chickasha, Elk City, Coweta, South Sioux City, Newcastle, Moore, Grand Island, Independence, York, Ralston, Crete, Glenpool, Choctaw, Arlington Heights, Woodward, Aurora, Springfield, Ava, Harlingen, Callahan, Casselberry, Coral Gables, Miami, Houston, McKinney, Leavenworth, Appleby, San Antonio, or elsewhere in these states, our team works to secure the compensation our clients need to recover from an accident involving a semi-truck.
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