Texas law enforcement averted a potentially catastrophic accident last week by apprehending a drunk driver behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler loaded with jet fuel. Although all DWIs are dangerous, drunk truck drivers can cause extremely devastating wrecks because the vehicles involved are much larger and harder to control.
Officers received reports of an 18-wheel tanker truck weaving between lanes and struggling to drive in a straight line. Several concerned drivers saw the trucker's erratic driving and called the Fayette County sheriff's office.
When the sheriff's officers caught up with the trucker and stopped the vehicle, they confirmed that the driver appeared to be drunk. They also found a handgun and an undisclosed amount of marijuana. The officers immediately arrested the driver, charging him with DWI and unlawful possession of a firearm.
This case may have been an extremely narrow miss. If the trucker was already struggling to stay in one lane on the road, he may have already been far too intoxicated to handle a truck. 18-wheel fuel tankers are difficult to drive in the first place because of size, weight, and the physical dynamics of a tractor trailer. This trucker could very easily have lost control and caused a rollover or a jackknife wreck, crashing into surrounding cars.
The situation was even more dangerous given the truck's contents. When tankers crash or roll, liquids can easily spill. In this case, the truck was carrying jet fuel and a crash could have resulted in either an ecologically destructive chemical spill or a fire.
Source: WLFI 18, "Jet fuel trucker charged with DWI," Sept. 5, 2012