According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), use of alcohol and drugs by truck drivers is the second major reason behind truck accidents. Despite the threats displayed by a truck (which comes from its enormous size and great weight), no driver of smaller vehicle would consider the possibility that it is being driven by a sleepy or alcohol-impaired driver. Yet, data show that, prior to accidents, many drivers were, indeed, intoxicated and impaired due to alcohol.
Under the law, those operating a commercial vehicle, such as trucks, buses and, especially, Class 8 trucks (these are trucks with a GWVR exceeding 33000 lb, like big-rigs, also called semi-trailers), should observe a higher standard where alcohol intoxication limit is the issue. Thus, compared to the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit imposed on drivers of smaller vehicles (cars, SUVs, pick-ups), the BAC limit on drivers of commercial vehicles is 0.04%. Anyone caught driving with this BAC level can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). This 0.04% BAC lmit, however, is not the only thing that big-rig drivers should worry about because drivers who are found to have a 0.02% BAC can also be suspended from driving for about 24 hours, while those who will register a 0.08%, even when off-duty, may still be charged with a DUI.
Many of big rig drivers are paid by the mile (about .40 cents per mile, which is below average); thus, the more “legitimate” miles they are able to cover, the higher pay they will get (so long as they do not get lost or make detours for a quick pass at home or anywhere else). To cover more miles, however, they will need to stay awake and alert. Now, many drivers try to accomplish these either by driving longer than the federal mandate allows, or by drinking alcohol or taking drugs. However, the only results these two acts will lead to are sleepiness and fatigue, and impairment.
It is the duty and responsibility of drivers to always stay sober when operating their trucks. Even the slightest impairment can lessen their ability to safely operate the huge and dangerous vehicles that they drive and put lives in danger. Thus, any act in violation of the laws against drunk driving can make them face serious criminal chargers, harsh penalties, and civil liabilities for injuries their drunkenness might cause.
Personal injury lawyers from the Sampson Law Firm say on their website that victims of truck accidents, especially if it was caused by a truck driver who was sleepy or drunk, should not pay for the costs of their accident. Paying for whatever damages and losses victims suffer from should be the duty, if not of the driver, then by the trucking firm that employed him or her.