Alcohol and driving is a bad combination: alcohol is a factor in 40% of all fatal accidents on Florida roads. Given that trucks are inherently dangerous to cars and pedestrians, because of their size and blind spots, trucks and alcohol make a particularly nasty combination.
A rather bizarre combination of events in a Butte, Montana accident illustrates the hazards of alcohol. Penny Mormon was driving her 2011 Ford Ranger pickup truck while she was drunk – over twice the legal limit. She hit three parked cars, and just kept driving, before she hit yet another car, and her smashed up truck finally came to a stop.
Bad enough, but when police called a towing company to come remove Mormon’s truck, the tow truck driver himself was drunk. Someone living on the block came out to talk to the tow truck driver, David Banks, as he was sweeping debris out of the street. The neighbor thought Banks seemed drunk, so he called the police, and sure enough the cops on the scene determined that Banks was legally intoxicated and they arrested him too.
Twelve states – Florida is NOT among them as yet – have come to the conclusion that driving a large truck while drunk is particularly dangerous, and they have set lower alcohol limits for commercial truck drivers.
The legal limit for car drivers over 21 in all states is now .08%. In twelve states, the limit for commercial truck drivers is .04%, which is basically one drink.
Another deadly combination with alcohol is youth: drunken teens are especially dangerous, and many states, including Florida, have a .02% limit for drivers under 21.
Overall, truck drivers are FAR more responsible about drinking and driving than automobile drivers. Which is to be expected: truck drivers are at work, they are not generally driving their semis home from the bar on Saturday night after a night on the town.
Statistics bear this out: while 22% of all car drivers involved in a fatal accident are intoxicated (blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than .08), only 1.3% of large truck drivers involved in fatal accidents are intoxicated.
Only 2.4% of truck drivers in fatal accidents have any alcohol whatsoever in their blood, compared with 25.8% of drivers of cars involved in accidents.
Thanks to much tougher enforcement, the percentage of drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents in both cars and trucks has fallen in the last 30 years. In 1982, 6.2% of truck drivers and 36% of car drivers involved in fatal accidents were legally intoxicated. Many thousands of lives have been saved by tougher drunk driving laws.