Any driver that operates a vehicle while in an impaired condition can be the cause of a
serious accident. In this article, a St. Augustine truck accident attorney looks at what can happen when an impaired driver is operating a tractor-trailer or other type of big rig.
Impairment is the reduced ability to control mental and physical functions. This can result from use of alcohol, prescription or nonprescription drugs, exhaustion, illness and the like. Any of these factors acting on the driver of any vehicle is a recipe for disaster. However, when you combine these factors and the driver of a tractor-trailer, the danger skyrockets. These vehicles are enormous, and they can neither turn nor stop on a dime. The driver whose control over himself or herself is reduced can have little or no control over his or her vehicle. When such a driver causes an accident, severe injuries can be the result and the driver may be liable for damages sustained by the victims.
A Very Real Danger
No one likes to believe that the drivers operating these big rigs are anything other than wide awake and sober. However, this is not always the case. The fact that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, has developed and implemented stringent standards concerning the use of alcohol and drugs by truck drivers demonstrates that this is not a situation to be taken lightly. Drug and alcohol screening for newly hired drivers and random testing for currently employed drivers must be completed by all trucking companies. Any driver involved in an accident must also be tested, especially if the accident caused severe injuries or if the truck driver was ticketed by a police officer.
Dangers of Driving While Impaired
Alcohol and drugs affect a truck driver in the same manner as they would anyone driving an automobile, motorcycle or any other vehicle. The driver’s reaction time is diminished; his or her reasoning ability and situational awareness is reduced; and reflex actions are slowed. The drowsiness caused by alcohol and certain medications or nonprescription drugs can cause the driver to go to sleep while operating the vehicle, to misread signs or fail to see impending threats or hazards.
It is not necessary for the driver to take drugs in order for this to happen. It can also happen if the driver is overtired from driving hour-after-hour. Truck drivers often take stimulants in their efforts to stay awake, but when these wear off exhaustion sets in. In an effort to minimize this risk, FMCSA guidelines mandate that drivers observe appropriate periods of downtime and limit their driving to specific lengths of time.
In Case of an Accident
People who have been injured or victimized through an accident involving an impaired truck driver are not without legal recourse. An experienced St. Augustine truck accident lawyer can help to determine whether or not legal proceedings will be of benefit and how best to demonstrate that the driver was in fact impaired. This may be done through drug or alcohol testing, but fatigue is a more difficult issue unless the drowsiness can be linked to a drug of some sort. If the driver was overtired after having driven for too long, one way to demonstrate that would be for your lawyer to examine the driver’s logs. These provide a written record of his or her hours at the wheel.
If You Were Injured in an Accident Involving a Truck
If you believe the truck driver was driving while impaired, contact your St. Augustine truck accident attorney by calling the Attorneys at Canan Law at 904-824-9402 today.