Accidents caused by distracted truck drivers have the potential to result in significantly more human suffering and property loss than accidents involving two passenger vehicles. These accidents put other drivers at greater risk than the truck drivers. We know that when any driver takes their eyes off the road to send a text, it is the same as driving the length of a football field blindfolded. When the vehicle in question is an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer, the possible damage is horrific.
Some Truckers Drive While Distracted
It would be easy to believe that commercial drivers are perfect drivers at all times. Most truck drivers are exceptionally careful drivers and do not drive distracted. Truck drivers are human, like the rest of us. These truckers drive many miles for many hours every day. Despite being careful and safe drivers, they can also become tired, hungry, or bored. Sometimes, the distractions that seem brief or innocuous contribute to an accident. Perhaps the trucker must meet a schedule and they do not want to leave the road and stop. On the other hand, they might just make a mistake. In fact, driver error has been the cause of an increasing number of truck accidents resulting in crash fatalities. In 2018, alone, accidents with fatalities that involve large commercial trucks rose by three percent.
Types of Distracted Driving for Truckers
The most common types of trucker distracted driving are:
- Texting and talking on a smartphone.
- Drinking or eating
- Adjusting instrument controls
- Checking a map or a navigation system
- Watching videos
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCS) reported that truckers who dial on a cell phone are six times more likely to be involved in a critical event (accident, near-accident, unintentional lane change) than those who do not. Truckers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in one of these critical events. Reaching for something in the cab makes the truck driver three times more likely to be in a crash. Placing a call on a hand-held device increases the risk of an accident by 600 percent.
Laws on Distracted Driving for Commercial Drivers
In October 2010 commercial truck drivers were prohibited by the FMCSA to text while driving.
In January 2012 the use of cell phones was banned for interstate truck drivers, bus drivers, and intrastate HAZMAT truck drivers.
The goal of these laws was to reduce the number of distracted driving-related truck accidents.
This law specifically applies to commercial trucks with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more. It says:
- Drivers are prohibited from holding, dialing, or reaching for a cell phone when driving.
- Drivers may use their cell phones only when they have pulled the vehicle to the side of the road or another location where they can come to a complete stop.
- Drivers may use an earpiece or other hands-free device.
- If a driver fails to obey these rules, he or she will incur fines of up to $2,750 per offense.
Call Altizer Law, P.C.
Accidents caused by distracted truck drivers typically result in serious injuries or fatalities. If you or a loved one is injured in such an accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and losses. Call Altizer Law in Roanoke, VA for the legal representation you need. We have been helping people injured by distracted truck drivers for 30 years. We can help you to understand when and why you can hold the truck driver and the trucking company liable. Bettina Altizer and her expert team are compassionate and fiercely aggressive in defending your right. After an accident this serious, and the treatment of injuries, we know that legal action is about the money, and we fight for every dollar.