Traveling Nebraska’s busy highways every day are commercial trucks carrying freight. While important to our nation’s economy, those sitting behind the wheel of semi trucks also carry important responsibilities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports a 9 percent increase in 2017 of large truck fatalities—a total of 392 more lives lost than 2016. One contributing factor is drunk commercial drivers.
Drunk driving involving a semi truck is especially dangerous due to the size and weight of the truck. The NHTSA cites that 72 percent of fatalities in truck crashes in 2017 involved people in the passenger vehicle. Those who survive crashes involving semi trucks face years of medical procedures, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you’ve been seriously injured due a negligent commercial truck driver, contact a Nebraska personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Large Trucks and Alcohol: A Deadly Combination
There’s no doubt that semi trucks—sometimes referred to as eighteen wheelers—are larger and heavier than passenger cars. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, semi-trucks:
- Often weigh 20 to 30 times as much as a passenger car
- Are taller than passenger cars and have greater ground clearance
- Take 20 to 40 percent further to stop when fully loaded. This discrepancy is greater on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes.
A study by the University of Texas, San Antonio found that alcohol reduces your mental functions first, meaning caution and reasoning skills are quickly reduced. This effect begins with an alcohol level of .02 percent. Additionally, the study found the following:
- Impairs ability to judge distance and depth position
- Impairs ability to coordinate motor skills, affecting the ability to react
- Slows down reaction time by 15-25 percent
This analysis of truck weight and stopping time, combined with the data regarding alcohol and reaction times, indicates the disastrous results when commercial truck drivers drive drunk. An impaired commercial truck driver loses his ability to quickly react and to stop in time—a deadly combination for passenger cars sharing the same road.
CDL and Implied Consent
The right to obtaining a commercial drivers license comes with implied consent for alcohol testing. Any driver who is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or even a controlled substance is subject to testing in any state or jurisdiction where the offense occurs.
Refusing to take an alcohol test as required by its state and jurisdiction implied consent laws is a major violation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also lists the following actions as serious violations that may result in sanctions and loss of a CDL:
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial vehicle
A CDL serves as a pathway to a driving career for many people who love to drive. With it comes a great deal of responsibility when it comes to handling a semi truck. Abusing the right to a CDL by drinking and driving is the surest way to cause serious injury to other drivers and their passengers. It is also the quickest path to ending a commercial driving career.
Blood alcohol content (BAC) standards are different for commercial truck drivers than for those who operate non-commercial vehicles. Most states have a set level of 0.08 percent as the level for at or above which a person operating a non-commercial vehicle is considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol.
The BAC level for commercial truck drivers is much lower—0.04 percent. Any commercial truck driver at or above this BAC level is deemed to be driving under the influence of alcohol and is subject to sanctions as listed in the federal regulations. The driver also faces fines and possible jail time.
Common Injuries Caused by Trucking Accidents
A crash involving a semi truck and your passenger car is a sudden and traumatic experience. The force of the impact may result in such injuries as:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken bones
- Vision loss
- Torn ligaments
Depending upon your diagnosis, you may need personal care assistance, physical therapy, modifications to your home, and expensive medicines. Trucking companies and aggressive insurance companies will offer you low dollar amounts in an effort to settle the case quickly. Settlement offers from the defendants rarely plan for or cover a patient’s long term needs. These same companies will try to offer a settlement in the event of a death. Losing a loved one due to the negligence of someone else is grounds for a possible wrongful death claim. Factors such as funeral costs and the lost wages of your loved one are factors to consider after the accident.
Whether you are seriously injured or are grieving the loss of a loved one, now is not the time to deal with trucking and insurance companies. It is a time to heal, recover, and to grieve. Let the experienced legal team of the Robert Pahlke Law Group deal with the trucking and insurance representatives.
The Pahlke Law Group Can Help
Commercial truck drivers have the same responsibility as other Nebraska drivers when it comes to drinking and driving. Sadly, those commercial drivers who choose to drink and then get behind the wheel of their semi truck seriously harm and kill innocent people.
A passenger car provides little defense against a heavy, fully loaded semi truck, operated by a drunk driver. Depending upon the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Don’t let trucking and insurance companies fool you with initial settlement offers. Their interest is in their company, and not you. At the Pahlke Law Group, we put our clients first. If we are unable to settle on your behalf, we are unafraid to go to court.
Let us review your case today. Time is of the essence in pursuing a claim, so don’t delay. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (308) 633-4444 or contact The Robert Pahlke Law Group online. Everyone deserves to travel Nebraska highways safely. When an accident occurs due to another driver’s negligence or reckless behavior, it’s time to contact the Pahlke Law Group.