Truck drivers & substance abuse

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – With the I-20 hall working by means of the center of our space, most of us share the highway with massive vehicles each day. However our I-Group discovered, DUIs are on the rise for business drivers, placing you and your loved ones in danger.

Driving an 18 wheeler—with 40 tons of cargo—comes with further accountability.

“Your truck is so massive, and you’ve got a lot weight, it’s a must to at all times be in your proper thoughts, proper way of thinking whenever you’re behind the wheel of one among these,” mentioned Michael Hugley.

Michael Hugley’s been hauling cargo up and down I-20 for 26 years and he’s just about seen all of it. Some issues you may’t unsee.

“Seen automobiles go underneath massive vehicles and vehicles go proper over automobiles,” he mentioned. “You possibly can’t cease a truck, particularly like this whenever you’re hauling 144,000 kilos.”

Which is why state troopers are involved with what they’re discovering behind the wheel of those vehicles.

“We’re discovering something from alcohol to marijuana, methamphetamines, ecstasy, mainly any of the 7 scheduled medication,” mentioned Chasen Woodie, PIO for Georgia State Patrol.

Our I-Group discovered DUI arrests of business drivers are on the rise. Simply this 12 months alone, we’ve had greater than 250 DUIs, and that’s simply in 4 months.

Our I-Group crunched the info and likewise discovered truckers accused of DUI in 72 crashes on Georgia roads to date this 12 months. Simply eight months in the past a trucker accused of DUI modified Michael Johnson’s life.

Michael Johnson was injured in crash with trucker accused of DUI.

“I look again on that day and thank the lord above that I’m nonetheless right here,” mentioned Johnson.

He was driving a silver Kia on I-20 when deputies say a truck driver underneath the affect of medication didn’t decelerate for site visitors stopped forward.

“Subsequent factor I do know, I hear a loud explosion and I’m waking up. Persons are banging on the window and making an attempt to get me out of my automotive,” he mentioned.

Since then, he’s been out and in of physician’s places of work for months with neck and again accidents.

“I’ve to get folks to chop the grass now. I can’t exit and minimize the grass like I used to. Can’t play softball like I used to. Hindered lots of issues. Used to exit and do issues with my youngsters, however that’s slowed method down,” he mentioned.

The Chris Hudson regulation group is representing Johnson in court docket and legal professional Chris Hudson who additionally serves as an element time decide in site visitors court docket says their case load for this sort of accident has grown.

“At current, we in all probability have two to a few DUI trucking instances on our docket,” mentioned Hudson.

That wasn’t at all times the case.

“I can inform you, it’s alarming, as a result of 20-30 years in the past after I first began practising regulation, it was very uncommon to see a DUI accident involving a tractor trailer. However there was an uptick on my aspect, being a private damage lawyer,” he mentioned.

In response to the uptick, Georgia State Patrol has teamed up with the governor’s workplace of freeway security and native regulation enforcement to begin highway security checks for large vehicles.

“Medication that may preserve you awake longer, we’ve discovered that on a few of our highway checks,” mentioned Woodie.

Three weeks in the past they held a security examine in Grovetown pulling truckers over on the I-20 westbound weigh stations. They arrested three truck drivers for DUI right here in our space. Six days later they arrested one other six truck drivers at a checkpoint on I-16 seizing 67 grams of meth and 4 grams of heroin.

“I agree that they have to be charged. If I had my household out on the highway and one among these was to hit them and kill them, it will be simply breathtaking,” mentioned Wade Morgan, truck driver for 22 years.

At these security examine factors our I-Group discovered to date this 12 months a complete of 10 truck drivers charged with DUI for marijuana use, 4 charged with DUI for drugs, and 6 arrested for DUI for alcohol. Officers say they discovered 18 drivers with marijuana of their truck and 12 extra with different medication.

However why the current spike? Whereas we are able to’t know for positive truckers say a few of the business necessities have modified and the pressures are totally different than they was with most log books now digital as an alternative of paper.

“Attempting to beat the log books and simply making an attempt to rush….a few of them is simply making an attempt to run, run, run, to beat that 11 hour working time, and simply getting in a number of hassle,” mentioned Morgan.

Truckers we spoke with additionally level to delays at transport and loading docks including instances to their journeys for security protocols, and quick staffing from the pandemic.

“With the digital log it consistently runs, so then the motive force acquired to attempt to make up time to get someplace to get offloaded,” mentioned Hugley.

So might these pressures be including to the strain to remain awake longer, or unwind sooner?

What did your youngsters say once they noticed the car?

“They began crying,” mentioned Johnson.

And the way was that for you, understanding that you may’ve left them behind?

“(tears up) Emotional,” he mentioned.

Regardless of the trigger Michael Johnson says it isn’t price a life.

One other doable trigger may very well be stronger enforcement. GSP says they’ve seen this uptick, so in flip they’re on the market searching for DUI’s and arresting drivers. DSP says they plan to maintain holding these security checks to cease DUI truckers of their tracks.

Copyright 2021 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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