How Many Truck Drivers Who Drink and Drive are never Caught
If a car or any vehicle moves directly in front of a semi-trailer or 18-wheeler, much more a loaded one, and slows down, the semi-trailer will not be able to slow down or stop immediately and would most likely crash into the vehicle that cut in front of it instead. This is because a loaded truck requires more stopping distance than a car. Compared to a light pickup or an ordinary passenger car which, at the speed of 65 mph, will require about 316 feet before coming to a full stop, an 18-wheeler will take 525 feet to stop fully. This longer stopping distance and other factors, which make big rigs threats on the road, are the reasons why it is very necessary that truck drivers are fully trained, licensed, not feeling fatigued or sleepy, and totally sober and focused on the road whenever behind the wheel, besides the fact that their truck’s braking system is in very good operating condition.
This longer stopping distance plus other factors, such as a truck’s length, size and weight, which make them threats on the road, are the reasons why it is very necessary that truck drivers are fully trained, licensed, not feeling fatigued or sleepy, and totally sober and focused on the road whenever behind the wheel. However, as shown in a number of studies, many truck drivers have been found alcohol-impaired or high on drugs while driving – a very serious traffic violation due to the high risk of injury they put themselves and, especially, other motorists in.
Part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration‘s (FMCSA’s) safety program is mandatory random drug and alcohol testing of truckers. Just 1% of all tested drivers prove positive for alcohol, a very big margin from the 12.5% found by a Brazilian university international study. While there are differences in methodology and testing procedures, suspected reasons for the large discrepancy include: avoidance of the tests by truckers who drink and drive; and some trucking companies assisting intoxicated truckers to avoid the tests, while some hide the results. Some drivers, known as “job-hoppers,” on the other hand, go to a new trucking company, after failing an alcohol test and getting fired, but without informing the new trucking firm of their dismissal from their previous employment.
The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers of passenger cars is 0.08%; for truck drivers, however, the limit is much lower: 0.04%. Semi-truck drivers operating their truck despite a 0.04% BAC can result to DUI, while if caught with a 0.02%BAC, they can be suspended from operating their truck for a total of 24 hours.
While many truck drivers and trucking companies do everything they can to stay safe on the roadway, the sad reality is that not everyone exercises this level of caution, putting unsuspecting motorists in harm’s way. Drivers forced to exceed the set hours of service restrictions, drivers who abuse alcohol and/or amphetamines while behind the wheel, or drivers/companies that fail to keep their trucks in good working order regularly expose everyone on the road to serious risks.
Those who are injured by an 18-wheeler will definitely need experienced legal representation in whatever legal action they may pursue against those responsible for their unnecessary suffering.