Truck drivers spend long hours in their vehicles. It’s a tight space and a solitary lifestyle that many embrace. Sometimes, though, it comes head to head with highway hypnosis and drivers forget their surroundings.
Alcohol certainly played a factor in a Vermont arrest where a driver not only crashed his rig, but did so because he was changing pants while driving. Between fatigue, highway hypnosis and illegal (and highly dangerous) behaviors like consuming alcohol, it highlights the dangers on our highways.
The Vermont accident
A drunk driver who stood up to change pants while behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler is the exception, not the norm, but it illustrates that driving is always unpredictable. The driver was treated for minor injuries and criminally charged, likely ending his career. Fortunately, the freightliner didn’t collide with any other vehicles.
Car and truck differences
When cars and trucks collide, the results are serious. On average, cars max out at 5,000 pounds, which is measurably less than a semi, which can be up to 80,000 pounds. It’s a 16:1 size difference and the impact of large on small is often more serious for the smaller vehicle.
Transport companies do all they can to keep drunk drivers off the road, with commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) having a 50% limit as that of a regular license holder. For the pants-changing driver, his legal limit was .04 percent BAC. For a non-commercial license it’s .08. He blew a .209, or five times the legal limit.
Not only are CDLs strict with alcohol consumption, but receiving a DUI ticket will suspend or revoke a commercial license — even if the ticket was off the clock and in a non-commercial vehicle. CDLs are vigilant to protect the integrity of the driving trade.
It’s never routine
The takeaway from the Vermont arrest is that, although this situation was a statistical outlier where no one was seriously injured, the roads are always dangerous and unpredictable. There is almost always a car crash story that involves an “I’ve never heard that before” angle.
Comfort and routine breed complacency and that’s when errors occur. Maybe it’s the temptation to response to a text message or maybe it’s an urgent desire to change pants. Regardless of the situation, always be mindful of the road and take driving seriously. If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries, medical expenses, mental suffering and lost wages.