A professional truck driver is alleged to have been intoxicated at the time of a fatal accident Sunday in Houston.
The car wreck occurred about 10:30 Sunday evening at Cook Road near Beechnut. According to reports, the truck driver ran a red light which resulted in the big rig of being struck by a Chevy Tahoe.
The Tahoe driver was taken to Memorial Herman Southwest Hospital but could not be saved. Reports indicate that the trucker was arrested at the scene and will be charged with the intoxicated manslaughter.
Drinking and driving or drug use by semi-truck drivers is especially dangerous given the size of the big rigs and the damage they can do to others. There are recorded cases of 18-wheelers wiping out several families when the driver was under the influence of alcohol.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Part 382 deals with controlled substance and alcohol use by truck drivers. The regulation is aimed at preventing accidents and injuries from the use and misuse of alcohol and controlled substance by commercial truck drivers.
Section 382.201 provides that a driver shall not have an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater when reporting for duty performing safety sensitive functions. Further, Section 382.205 makes clear that employers who have actual knowledge of a driver’s use of alcohol while performing safety sensitive functions shall not permit the driver perform safety functions.
The regulations also provide that a driver shall not perform safety sensitive functions within four hours after using alcohol.
The regulations also provide specific requirements regarding testing for alcohol or drug use. Unfortunately, having regulations does not ensure their compliance and we still have impaired drivers on the road.
Truck drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be very similar to a airplane pilot under the influence of alcohol in that the possibility for extreme tragedy is present with an 80,000 pound vehicle on the roadway.
Whenever there is a fatal accident involving alcohol, inquiry usually focuses on the driver alleged to be intoxicated, his employer and can also include the place where the driver became intoxicated.
While commercial motor carriers and truck drivers are required to have substantial liability policies, if a truck driver became intoxicated at a bar or club and was served alcohol after he or she was obviously intoxicated, the bar or club may also be a potential defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit under Texas dram shop laws.
Early investigation is always important after a fatal accident.
Punitive damages also called exemplary damages are also a consideration in many accidents where alcohol was a factor.