Drunk driving is a fatal mistake that is made all too often by qualified truck drivers. With higher standards to be upheld than the average non-commercial driver, truckers must remain diligent and aware while on the road. All one has to do is look at the sheer size of an eighteen-wheeler to recognize the threat posed by tipsy truck drivers.
Driving a commercial truck is not as simple as jumping in the cab, turning the keys, and pressing the gas. There are numerous tests drivers have to take before obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This doesn’t just involve the typical eighteen-wheeler seen on the highway. Commercial vehicles also include garbage trucks, tractors, construction vehicles, and various other large motor vehicles.
The sheer size of these units is a major factor influencing a need for more training and diligent driving practices. The average height for a semi-truck is 13 ½ feet, making it almost impossible to notice anyone who is directly in front of the vehicle. In addition to mass, there’s the maneuvering that comes with making sharp turns, having to be constantly aware of blind spots, adjusting to changing traffic, and less than ideal road conditions for commercial truckers to consider.
Adding drugs or alcohol into the mix is a negligent action regardless of what vehicle a person operates. However, this act becomes much deadlier for victims when that vehicle is a commercial-sized truck. According to a 2017 NHTSA study, 72% of all fatalities from accidents involving a commercial truck trailer were occupants of the other vehicles involved in the crash. Any passengers in a smaller vehicle going up against a commercial trailer are going to have the odds stacked against them.
A commercial vehicle’s capabilities can be used in urban settings (such as loading docks, delivery areas, parking lots, highways) and in rural areas as well (including fields, pastures, barns, ranches, and various other locations). The versatility of a commercial truck means that accidents can happen anywhere.
To give an idea of the minute elevations of alcohol that can affect a person’s abilities to function, listed below are the noted tiers where the symptoms are experienced regardless of demographic;
- 0.02% BAC: The consumer experiences a relaxed state of mind as judgment becomes impaired, and visual functions are altered and reduced.
- 0.05% BAC: There is an increase in heightened behavior, personal inhibitions are removed, and reduced dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and further impairments to judgment are experienced.
- 0.08% BAC: The consumer may have short term memory loss and reduced physical and emotional self-control. Speed and perception become greatly reduced along with skills in judgment.
- 0.10% BAC: Slurred speech, poor perception and visual focus, and even further reductions in hand-eye coordination and reaction time begin to take effect.
- 0.15% BAC: Consumers experience nausea and vomiting, loss of muscle control, stumbling, a complete lack of physical coordination, and mental faculties become greatly inhibited. Speech and mental recall become tremendously impaired to the point that almost all information is impossible to process.
All states have a BAC limit that is enforced within their own boundaries in regards to driving, and these limits are different depending on the type of vehicle being operated. For passenger vehicles, the legal BAC limit is .08%. However, that limit is cut in half when it comes to operating a commercial vehicle with respect to the greater need for attentiveness on the road. In regards to underage drinking, there is a zero-tolerance policy for all drivers under 21 who have any BAC found in their system.
The United States is much more lenient compared to other countries when it comes to BAC while driving. Canada and Mexico share the US’s limit at 0.8%. In France, where the legal drinking age is 18 (16 if in the presence of adults), the percentage drops down to .05%. The British use an entirely different system, with the limit on alcohol content in the blood being 80mg/100ml. In Asian countries, the limit for BAC while driving drops even further to .03% for Japan and .02% for China. In the Middle Eastern countries where alcohol consumption is allowed (since Islam is the prevailing cultural influence), there is a zero-tolerance policy for driving while under the influence of any alcohol.
While a trucking company may admit fault in an accident caused by employed drivers operating a commercial vehicle while drunk, it is more common for a company to minimize the losses owed to those harmed by irresponsible and negligent drivers.