Truck drivers with a commercial driver license (CDL) are subject to drug and alcohol testing, and motor carriers who employ them are required to have a testing program. Despite this, a study of truck driver fatalities conducted in eight states by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed that 33 percent of the sample of fatally injured drivers contained alcohol or psychoactive drugs in their blood systems. In 34 percent of the remaining fatally injured drivers, at least one other type of drug was detected.
In another study by the Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety of interstate tractor-trailer drivers who were operating their vehicles at the time, it was found that although less than 1 percent of tractor-trailer drivers had alcohol in their systems, detectable levels of drugs were found in the systems of the following amount of drivers:
- Marijuana: 15 percent (of tractor-trailer drivers)
- Non-prescription stimulants: 12 percent
- Prescription stimulants: 5 percent
- Cocaine: 2 percent
It is a common misconception that driving under the influence of drugs is safer than drunk driving. Marijuana, for instance, can affect perception, concentration, and reaction time up to 24 hours after it is ingested, which is not always the case with alcohol. In fact, a driver does not need to be drunk in order to endanger the lives and the welfare of other drivers he or she shares the road with. Numerous studies have shown that even very low concentrations of blood-alcohol (BAC) can substantially affect anyone’s driving skills.
In most states, if it can be proven that a truck driver was intoxicated while operating his or her vehicle in an accident, he or she is automatically considered to be negligent. And since most states have adopted some form of comparative negligence laws, one of the issues in a truck accident case becomes how much of the driver’s negligence contributed to the accident.
There is more involved in a truck accident lawsuit, however, or for that matter any motor vehicle accident case, in the sense that if one of the drivers was intoxicated, that changes the entire dynamic of the case. An intoxicated driver does not make for a sympathetic plaintiff or defendant, so the other party will be less likely to want to settle the case, and the settlement amounts offered will therefore also be affected.
Truck accident lawsuits can be rather complex, especially if the driver, or any of the drivers involved, was intoxicated during an accident. For this reason, if you or a loved one has been involved in an accident involving a truck, it is imperative that you seek an experienced truck accident attorney to represent you. Please email or call us today and we will find an experienced truck accident attorney near you.