We all know the dangers associated with distracted driving. Between texting, surfing the web or putting on makeup, drivers on the road today are more susceptible to distracted driving than ever. And when you combine the commonality of distracted driving with a 40-ton semi-truck, it makes for a lethal combination.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), distracted truck drivers are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in an accident than those that aren’t. This article discusses some of the main distractions that truckers face, as well as some of the laws meant to protect others on the road and consequences of breaking these laws.
Distracted Driving Statistics
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, or FMCSA, inattention is the leading factor in crashes and near-crashes on America’s highways. A study performed by FMCSA found that nearly 80% of crashes involved some form of driver inattention in the 3 seconds just before an accident.
Additionally, a three-year study performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that approximately 11,000 truck crashes across the country involved driver distraction.
And in a year-long study performed by FMCSA, 71% of large truck accidents occurred when the truck driver was doing something other than focusing on the road. This means facing different types distractions around them, both internally and externally.
Types of Distractions
Many of the distractions truck drivers face are similar to those everyday commuters have to deal with. Both groups are distracted by cell phones, texting, using GPS, as well as gazing at billboards, eating or drinking. However, drivers of large commercial trucks are confronted with many additional distractions that passenger vehicle drivers may not consider.
For example, in addition to using cell phones to text friends or family, truckers also use various apps to communicate with each other while on the road. Other truck drivers use satellite radio services such as Sirius or XM radios, increasing their chances of distracted driving.
Moreover, truckers are typically on the road for hours at a time and travel long distances. Because of these long hauls, many drivers find themselves engaging with cell phones or other technology out of mere boredom, as well as necessity.
Laws and Consequences
Although many types of distractions are virtually impossible to make illegal, such as eating or drinking while driving (aside from alcohol, of course), federal and state regulations have addressed the most common distraction: technological gadgets.
The entity that regulates commercial trucking in the U.S., FMCSA, has enacted rules that regulate cell phone usage by truck drivers. According to FMCSA, texting while driving a semi-truck is completely forbidden. Moreover, while truckers are allowed to talk on a cell phone, the phone must be firmly mounted near the driver’s seat, and a hands-free device must be used.
Drivers that violate these rules can be subjected to harsh punishment as well. According to FMCSA, using a hand-held device while driving a semi-truck can result in driver disqualification. Penalties can be up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers.
In addition to civil penalties, drivers that have multiple violations can have their commercial driver’s license revoked by the State and disqualification by the federal government.
Distracted driving is one of the largest causes of vehicle accidents across the nation. These accidents can be much worse when an 80,000-pound truck is involved. Unfortunately, there are even more types of distractions that truckers face. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, it’s important to have an attorney that is experienced in trucking law on your side to ensure you are fully compensated for your injuries. Contact Robert Armstrong, today.