Were You Injured by a Distracted Truck Driver?
Safety requires that a truck driver’s main focus needs on the road, traffic ahead and around them. Many things divert a trucker’s attention resulting a distracted driver truck accident. Basic driving tasks like shifting a complicated manual transmission may briefly divert a driver’s attention from the road and traffic. Driving for extended periods on long, straight roads through flat terrain can cause boredom and driver inattention. Driver fatigue can also cause lapses in attention. An experienced distracted driver truck accident attorney will probably have had cases involving one or more of these.
In addition to being responsible for the basic vehicle controls like steering, brakes, fuel and transmission big rigs can contain many things which can divert the truck driver’s attention increasing the chances of a distracted driver truck accident. Modern semi trucks are loaded with equipment and devices which compete for the truckers attention and can contribute to a distracted driver truck accident by diverting the driver’s focus from the traffic and road conditions.
Some of these are:
- Gauges monitoring the operational condition of the truck
- Dashboard switches which control truck functions
- Electronic logging devices (ELDs). These are federally required devices to record the drivers working and driving hours (called hours-of-service or HOS for short)
- In truck communications systems to allow the driver and company to communicate. The are sometimes combined with the electronic logging devices
- On-board video cameras
- Cell phones
- CB radios
- Radios and music systems
Distractions can come from eating or drinking in the truck, lighting or smoking a cigarette, companion animal, a co-driver or passenger in the cab. The bottom line is when the driver’s eyes are off the road, they cannot react as quickly to things happening on the road. Even a brief distraction can cause an 18 wheeler accident resulting in catastrophic injury.
Texting and Cell Phones
Distraction from texting and cell phone use have caused truck accidents on roads and highways across the country. A University of Utah study found that cell phone use while driving delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 percent, the state legal limit. Other research shows that truck drivers who text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a crash, lane departure or near crash.
“Distraction in Commercial Trucks and Buses: Assessing Prevalence and Risk in Conjunction with Crashes and Near-Crashes“, a 2010 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety sought to identify the consequences of cellular use and other electronic device distractions while driving a commercial vehicle. In the study, the sample truckers were dialing numbers on their cell phones, reaching for their devices or their headsets, talking or listening on both hand-held and hands-free devices, or accessing the Internet while driving. The study also indicated that 3.97% of crashes, near-crashes, and crash-relevant events resulted from cell phone use.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations now prohibit big-rig and other commercial motor vehicle drivers from texting, reading texts holding or dialing a cell phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle. Despite this, some truck drivers may still be using handheld devices to make calls, send text messages, read or send emails, surf the Internet, listen to music, or access applications – while still on the road.
Distracted driving or driver inattention by a commercial truck driver can cause injuries like back injuries, spinal cord injury, broken bones, head trauma, burns, whiplash, disfigurement, amputations and death. Apart from physical and emotional toll, the victim and the victim’s family may also have to deal with financial damages. These can include medical bills caused by the truck accident, rehabilitation costs, lost income due to an inability to perform duties, future income loss and scarring or disfigurement.
If you or someone you love was seriously injured, disabled, or killed in a trucking accident caused by distracted driving, call Flick Law Firm as soon as possible. We know how to recover financial compensation for your injuries and/or losses in truck accident cases and hold the responsible driver or negligent party accountable for his or her actions.