Drunk driving continues to be a major problem in general, amongst drivers of all ages and vehicle types, but it can be especially dangerous when that vehicle is a commercial truck. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2013, there were 464 fatal truck accidents in the state, with 355 of them in rural areas and 109 in urban areas. Nationwide, the fatality number is even more startling. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCA), reported that there were 3,341 fatal accidents involving large trucks and 60,000 injury accidents.
In an effort to analyze this information, the agency conducted a study to examine causation, which revealed that 1% of drivers were found to be operating while under the influence of alcohol and another 2% intoxicated by illegal drugs. 17% took over-the-counter drugs and another 26% were on prescription drugs.
The Responsibility of the Trucking Company
Carriers are required to test their drivers for substances or alcohol prior to hiring them, prior to their return to duty following an accident, and randomly if there are any suspicions regarding their sobriety. They must also maintain certain levels of financial responsibility to operate their commercial motor vehicles, for which the minimum is $750,000 for vehicles over 10,000 pounds and $5,000,000 if hazardous materials are being transported.
If a carrier’s truck driver causes harm while intoxicated, the trucking company can be liable for damages, depending on the circumstances of the case.
How Big of a Problem is Drunk Driving Among Trucker Drivers?
While 1% might not seem like a large number, this actually equates to about 100,000 truck drivers nationwide who are operating large commercial trucks while under the influence of alcohol. This number was obtained through roadside inspections and many within the industry actually believe this number to be at least double what was discovered, putting 200,000 drunk truck drivers on the road at any given time. Given that many of these accidents cause either life-altering injuries or death, the number is alarmingly high and unacceptable.
Many incidents of abuse go undetected, unfortunately, either because of willful ignorance, inadequate testing, or even industry-wide cheating on drug and alcohol tests. In fact, magazine publications for truckers often advertise products that enable drug and alcohol abuse by providing ways to either hide it or skew the results of tests.
In 2012, the FMCSA attempted to target this problem by conducting a 2-week sweep in Washington, D.C. to search for commercial truck and bus drivers who were operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which resulted in the removal of 287 truck and bus drivers from the road. 128 companies faced penalties due to drug and alcohol violations. During this short time, the FMCSA only began to scratch the surface of a much larger problem and more needs to be done to protect other drivers on the road.
Austin Truck Accident Attorney
At The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC, we are proud to provide dedicated legal assistance to individuals who were injured in semi-truck and commercial vehicle accidents. Drivers share the road with all types of commercial trucks, many of which are used to haul goods throughout the region and pressured to do so as quickly as possible.
To fulfill these unreasonable demands, truck drivers will do almost anything to carry out their duties, often disregarding their own safety and the safety of others in the process. If you or someone you love was injured or killed by a drunk truck driver, do not hesitate to call our firm. We will help you hold all negligent parties accountable and seek fair and full compensation to help get your life back on track after this traumatic experience.
We handle a variety of truck accident cases, including those that involve brake failure, jackknife accidents, truck driver fatigue, improper loading, intoxicated drivers, company negligence, utility truck accidents, and unsecured cargo. You should not have to suffer in silence when others are at fault for your pain and suffering. Our firm operates on a contingency fee basis, so you can focus on your getting your life back on track while we handle your case. If we cannot secure compensation on your behalf, you will not owe us any legal fees.
Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC today at (512) 271-5112 for a free consultation with one of our experienced truck accident lawyers. You deserve a fierce legal advocate who will fight for you and ensure justice is served.