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Stoned “zombie” trucker causes wreck that leaves 4 women dead

Written by Steve Gursten Posted December 17th, 2014

Law enforcement discovers  drugs and paraphernalia in truck driver’s cab in tragic Oklahoma crash

Driving-on-marijuana1

In one of my earliest trucking cases, a truck driver who tested positive for marijuana got stuck blocking both lanes of a roadway. The trailer was white, and on this very foggy day, my client never had a chance before slamming into the trailer.

These cases are more common than most people realize. In my capacity as a truck accident lawyer and a trucking industry safety advocate, I often come across cases that are tragic and outrageous. I recently came across the story of a recent truck wreck in Oklahoma that sadly is just one more example of a sad and tragic, preventable wreck.

A trucker in Davis, Oklahoma, ran his truck off the road while he was driving late at night. The big-rig drove off of the roadway, across a median, and into the oncoming traffic lane. After entering the oncoming traffic lane, the semi-truck sideswiped a bus full of college students, causing the bus to flip over.

Oone of the college students, a young woman, was instantly killed.  Three others later succumbed to their injuries. When the dust settled, four young lives were cut short.

But I want to be clear: Even though we refer to this as a truck accident, there is nothing “accidental” about this fatal wreck. This crash occurred because the driver was in a “zombie” like state, according to emergency responders quoted in published reports.

Drugs and drug paraphernalia was discovered in the cab of his semi-truck. Law enforcement found a silver pipe with the odor of marijuana, and small bag of several varieties of prescription drugs. Both of these discoveries are major safety violations of federal and Oklahoma state law and can result in an immediate out of service order issued by trucking officials, as well as criminal proceedings against the trucker.

Four young women are dead because a truck driver got behind the wheel of his big-rig under the influence of drugs.

Tip of the iceberg?

Truckers on drugs are common. Drug use is a factor in an estimated 65,000 truck accidents a year, according to Trucking 101, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, December 2010. The Transportation Research Board of the National Academies also breaks down the type of substance abuse involved in the 65,000 truck crashes. Prescription drug use tops the list, with an estimated 37,000 truck accidents a year involving such drug use, or 26.3%.

We will keep the families of the victims in our thoughts. To read more about this tragedy please see, “Fireman: Trucker ‘Zombie”-Like After Fatal Bus Crash” on Insurancejournal.com.

Related information:

Safety groups, attorneys call for expansion of drug and alcohol clearinghouse for truckers

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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