Loophole in driving prohibition to be removed.
Starting next November, truck drivers with a "prohibited" status in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse will have their commercial driving privileges removed by state licensing agencies.
It's an extra measure to prevent impaired driving truck accidents in Arkansas and across the United States.
Since the first Clearinghouse Final Rule in 2020, commercial truck drivers listed in the FMCSA's drug and alcohol database have been prohibited from operating commercial motor vehicles. However, they were allowed to retain their commercial driver licenses (CDLs).
The new rule, the second Clearinghouse Final Rule, also requires states to revoke CDLs. A trucker can get their CDL back after successful completion of the "return-to-duty" process.
Extra caution around drugs and alcohol is necessary when 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, and other large commercial trucks are involved. That's why commercial truckers have a lower legal BAC limit to drive - 0.04 percent compared to the standard 0.08.
Employers are required to check a driver's status in the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse before hiring them. They must also check the database annually for existing drivers. But accidents still happen.
Common substances abused by truckers
Commercial truck drivers may abuse various substances, mainly due to the demands and pressures of their jobs. Commonly abused substances include stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine, which are used to stay awake during long drives. However, these substances can impair judgment and reaction times.
Alcohol is also a significant issue, despite strict federal regulations against driving under the influence. Additionally, some truckers might use marijuana and prescription drugs, including opioids and benzodiazepines, which can lead to impaired driving abilities and other risks.
Truck accident injuries
Commercial truck drivers cause thousands of accidents annually, leading to 5,000 or more fatalities. The need for testing and tracking is clear: Approximately 5 percent of truck accident fatalities involve drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Impaired driving truck accidents are severe, and there is a higher risk of death due to the significant size and weight difference between trucks and cars. Injuries that commonly result from truck accidents include:
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI). High-impact forces in truck collisions can cause vertebral fractures and dislocations, resulting in spinal cord trauma and neurological deficits.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). Acceleration-deceleration forces in truck accidents lead to closed-head injuries, ranging from concussions to severe TBIs.
- Multiple bone fractures. The massive disparity between trucks and smaller vehicles increases the force of impact, raising the likelihood of multiple fractures.
- Internal injuries. Visceral organ damage, vascular trauma, and intra-abdominal bleeding are common.
- Crush injuries. Occupants of smaller vehicles may sustain crush injuries from compression between colliding vehicles, resulting in compartment syndrome and potential vascular compromise.
- Amputations. Severe truck accidents may lead to traumatic amputations due to entrapment or shearing forces on extremities.
- Burns. Incidents involving hazardous material spills or combustion can cause thermal injuries, including burns of varying degrees.
Impaired truck accident liability
Truck accident victims are entitled to seek compensation for damages from the liable party. In a typical crash, this would be the at-fault driver's insurance policy. But commercial truck accidents are not usually so straightforward. In Arkansas, liability in a truck accident involving an impaired truck driver typically rests on one or more parties, including:
- Truck driver. The impaired truck driver is generally considered directly liable for the accident. Driving under the influence violates traffic laws and constitutes negligence.
- Trucking company. The trucking company may be held vicariously liable for the actions of its employee, the truck driver. If the driver was on duty and engaged in work-related activities, the company may be responsible for the driver's negligence, and the victim could file a claim with their insurance.
- Negligent hiring or supervision. If the trucking company failed to adequately screen or supervise the driver, and this negligence contributed to the impaired driving incident, the company could be held liable based on negligent hiring or supervision.
- Third-party liability. In some cases, other parties, such as maintenance contractors or those responsible for loading the truck's cargo, may share liability if their actions contributed to the accident.
Injured? Our truck accident lawyers can fight for you
Determining liability in an impaired driving truck accident can be complicated, but it's a necessary step for injured crash victims seeking justice and financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.
At McDaniel Law Firm, PLC, our experienced Jonesboro truck accident lawyers understand what it takes to win and will stop at nothing to hold liable parties accountable for your losses. If you were injured or a loved one died in an Arkansas truck accident, contact our firm to schedule a free case evaluation.