How to Recognize Impaired Truck Drivers
Truck drivers are expected to be responsible, capable, and extensively experienced drivers, largely due to the sheer amount of danger trucks present to other vehicles on the road. As such, most drivers, while cautious of trucks themselves, usually don’t worry much about who’s behind the wheel, yet impairment of any kind is a frequent issue for truck drivers, accounting for over 25% of all trucking accidents in America.
So why does impairment actually occur? In practice, drug and alcohol intoxication is rare among truck drivers due to frequent testing. Rather than substance-based impairment, it’s significantly more common to see truckers fall victim to drowsy driving in truck accidents due to accumulated fatigue. This stems from the fact that, while Arizona truck driver shift limits do exist, many truckers choose to illegally work overtime regardless, forgoing sleep and breaks in favor of dangerous, yet paid, hours driving. In a similar vein, it’s not uncommon for truckers to distract themselves with music, texting, food and drink, or other activities in their cabin.
Signs of Impairment
You can’t reliably see into a trucker’s cabin to catch direct signs of impairment (such as droopy eyes, awkward postures, or a phone in their lap), but there are certain tendencies in their driving that you can likely pick up on:
- Missing traffic lights and signage, or acting in ways that imply that they’re only barely catching them (merging onto freeway exits at the last moment, rapidly decelerating at stop signs, etc.).
- Demonstrating poor control of their speed, marked by periods of slow deceleration followed by sudden acceleration, or vice versa. Hard braking at stoplights also falls into this category.
- Failing to use turn signals appropriately, or leaving them on well after they’ve finished their maneuver.
- Swerving in and out of lanes, or drifting back and forth within one lane, especially when accompanied by sudden, jerking corrections from time to time.
Proving Impairment in Arizona Trucking Accidents
Although it can be difficult to recognize impaired drivers on the road, it’s oftentimes far easier to notice them during an investigation. An Arizona truck accident attorney can help you gather and analyze these key pieces of evidence:
- Drug and alcohol tests are mandatory for truck drivers within 2-8 hours after their collision, which will usually catch substance-abusing truckers via irrefutable evidence.
- Black boxes in truck accidents, in addition to a wealth of other data, record driver hours and can prove that a trucker may have worked excessively, leading to fatigue and drowsiness.
- Eyewitness accounts can corroborate that a trucker may have been driving strangely, helping to prove that the trucker was either negligent, impaired, or both.
- Security cameras in trucks, intersections, or from local establishments may provide a direct look into a trucker’s cabin, showing whether or not they were distracted or impaired.
- Cell phone records can be used to demonstrate that a trucker made a call or responded to a text while driving, both of which can constitute reckless distractions.
Note that merely proving that impairment was present isn’t sufficient to maximize a claim. Under Arizona’s pure comparative fault system, even predominantly at-fault parties could be found partially guiltless, resulting in a reduction of your compensation. ELG’s legal professionals can help you craft a comprehensive case for compensation, so schedule a free consultation with us today at (623) 877-3600 to get started.