Boston Drunk Driving Accidents involving Commercial Vehicles

Most Boston drunk driving accidents involve one or more personally owned vehicle.  They also typically occur late at night or in the overnight hours after the bars close since this is the most likely time for someone to be out on the road while drunk.  While this is certainly the norm in terms of Boston drunk driving crashes, it is not the only time drunk driving accidents occur in Boston and around the nation and not every accident involves  personal vehicles.

Boston drunk Driving In some cases, we have seen drivers of vehicles, such as a semi tractor trailer or other large commercial vehicle, involved in a Massachusetts drunk driving collision.  Because of the size of these commercial vehicles,  there is so much weight that is transferred into energy in a crash that smaller vehicles and pedestrians or bike riders do not really stand a chance.  These vehicles also take a lot longer to stop than a standard passenger vehicle.

Increased Stop Times For Commercial Motor Vehicles in Boston Drunk Driving Accidents

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a fully loaded commercial truck driving in fair to good conditions on a dry road surface can take over two football fields to stop.  This means that a truck driver traveling within the speed limit of the Massachusetts Turnpike on a dry clear day will need around 600 feet to come to a complete stop.  If he or she is driving too close to another vehicle (tailgating), there is no way he or she will be able to stop the truck in time.

Even if this driver is providing the vehicle in front with the proper assured clear distance ahead (ACDA) and not tailgating, but has a reduced reaction time due to being intoxicated, there is also a very high risk he or she will crash the truck into the car in front.  Even if the car in front came to a sudden and unexpected stop, as long as the driver was already legally established in the front position on the roadway, as codified in Chapter 90 of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.), a driver will be presumed to be more than 50 percent at fault in any accident in which he or she rear-ends another vehicle.  This doesn’t mean it is an irrebuttable proposition, as our Boston drunk driving accident lawyers can explain, because if the driver in front had pulled out of a parking lot or otherwise failed to yield to an already established vehicle, he or she could be the party at fault in causing the accident.

However, as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) can demonstrate, one of the major problems with drunk driving is that it will often slow the reaction time of drivers. As discussed in its publication on The Visual Detection of DWI Motorists, we often observe a drunk drivers sitting at a green traffic light as if it was red waiting for the light to turn.  This is because it takes this driver longer to realize the light has turned green and to step on the gas.  Even once a driver realizes the light has turned green, and this can take as long as 20 or 30 seconds, they will often experience a slower reaction time in being able to perform the gross motor skills necessary to operate the vehicle. If a vehicle stops abruptly and a truck driver needs two football fields to safely stop, there is very little chance he or she will be able a avoid a serious or even fatal accident.

In some cases, the driver will then try to swerve to avoid hitting the vehicle in front and this can result in hitting other vehicles, also causing serious personal injury or death, or even jackknifing the trailer and rolling it over resulting in potentially even more destruction.

While semi tractor trailers may be the longest commercial vehicles, they are far from the heaviest, and this means there are many commercial motor vehicles which need even longer to come to a complete stop, such as a garbage truck carrying a dumpster loaded with sand or dirt from a construction site.  These vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds under federal law and  require the utmost caution when operating, and this clearly includes sobriety. Tanker trucks are also very dangerous because even after they come to a complete stop, the thousands of gallons of liquid can shift forward causing the truck to start moving again and plow through anything in front of the truck, or enter an intersection where a T-bone collision will occur.

While we often think of the dangers of a truck loaded with flammable liquid as posing the highest degree of risk, these trucks are designed with bulkheads inside the container to prevent liquid shift and fire suppression systems.  A milk truck on the other hand, must be able to be fully cleaned inside and bacteria can get trapped on many of these safety systems so they are actually at a higher risk for a liquid shift accident.

Recent Example of Drunk Driving Crash involving a Commercial Motor Vehicle

According to a recent news article from ABC 7, a garbage truck driver has just been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving when he allegedly crashed his vehicle into 9 other vehicles while operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor.  Fortunately in this case, there were no occupants as he only allegedly ran into parked cars, but the damage was extensive and cars and vans were essentially crushed and cut in half in a manner we are accustomed to seeing in a Monster Jam rally. If there had been anyone in these vehicles, it is very unlikely they would have survived given the amount of damage done in this alleged drunk driving crash.  It should be noted even though this garbage truck driver has been charged with some very serious offenses, these are only accusation and he is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a judge or jury, which is the standard of proof required in a criminal case.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston traffic accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Garbage truck driver charged with drunk driving after plowing into 9 cars in Brooklyn, June 10, 2018, ABC News 7

More Blog Entries:

Boston Drunk Driving Accidents involving On-The-Job Injuries, March 21, 2018, Boston Drugged Driving Injury Attorney Blog