One of the most common causes of commercial trucking accidents in the U.S. is driver fatigue usually brought on by lack of sleep and excessive hours behind the wheel. Although federal regulations limit the number of on-the-road hours that a commercial truck driver can work behind the wheel, it is no secret that many truckers bend or break these rules on a fairly frequent basis. Spurred by on-time or early delivery bonuses, as well as the occasional unspoken negative incentive, some truckers may feel they have to exceed the federally mandated Hours-of-Service rules in order to make a living.
Unfortunately, in making a living in this way, sometimes these commercial driver get into traffic accidents, which may or may not involve fatalities; and many times trucking-related wrecks caused by driver fatigue produce injuries, not just to the driver himself, but to innocent victims who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Other causes of tractor-trailer accidents can include distraction from any number of sources, such as cellphones, smartphones, in-cab navigation devices, audio systems, or any other electronic device that takes the truckers attention away from the task at hand. Speeding and faulty vehicle maintenance can also be common areas that a personal injury attorney might need to consider when formulating a case against a negligent truck driver or commercial trucking company.
The reason that this industry is heavily regulated by state and federal agencies is due the fact that trucking accidents can be costly, not just in terms of monetary or financial loses to the state and the local community in which they occur, but also in terms of the lives forever changed because of one individual’s error or negligence. As Maryland automobile accident lawyers, our job is to help victims of car truck and motorcycle wrecks recover the cost of medical treatment and other expenses following an injury accident.
Because commercial trucks are unlike any other motor vehicle on the road, drivers must be specially licensed. Here in Maryland, commercial trucker must meet certain standards, which if any one of these is violated can be used to hold that driver liable for any personal injury or property damage that occurs while the driver is operating the vehicle. One of the differences between a commercial truck driver and a passenger car operator is how an alcohol-related traffic violation can affect the driver.
For motorist holding a driver’s license for a passenger vehicle, the legal limit for drunk driving in most states is 0.08 percent blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). If a driver is caught and convicted of operating a car or motorcycle at or above that limit, they are considered legally drunk and will suffer the penalties of their state for violating the law. For a truck driver this limit is much lower — 0.04 percent BAC — and the penalties can include forfeiture of one’s commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Some commercial truckers are apparently not swayed by the tighter drunken driving rules provided for by their CDL. Such would seem to have been the case based on a news article we saw from around New Years. According to that report, a Maryland trucker almost lost control of his rig along a stretch of I-70 in Massachusetts. Based on that news article, the driver initially didn’t stop for the police who followed the man’s 18-wheeler for several miles before they forced the vehicle to stop. Apparently, the 33-year-old trucker was already driving erratically at a little before 10pm on New Year’s Eve when some concerned motorists dialed 911 to report the driver’s behavior. Responding to the call, officers caught up to the truck which then swerved so severely it almost flipped over.
Reports indicate that the trucker refused to pull over for the police, after which another officer set a spike strip across the lanes of the interstate to blow out the trucks tire. Once they had the driver in custody, officers noted that his eyes were bloodshot, his breath had the odor of alcohol, and he could not stand without help. An initial breathalyzer test measure the trucker’s BAC at 0.18 percent. Apparently, the man also admitted to having too much to drink.
According to the news report, the officers took the man to the local hospital. Although the driver refused to submit to a blood test, police gained a search warrant for a blood sample, after which it was found the driver had a BAC of 0.30. He was eventually charged with driving while intoxicated as well as a Class D felony charge for resisting the efforts of the arresting officers.
Police: Drunken semi driver wouldn’t stop, GreenfieldReporter.com, December 31, 2012