Calhoun, Meredith, Sims Logo
Calhoun, Meredith, Sims Logo
09/14/2021

Distracted driving is an established cause of road accidents. Find out why truck drivers are at higher risk for distracted driving and the legal restrictions. 

To be great at truck driving, you would need to be someone who knows and follows safety rules. Truck drivers at higher risk for distracted driving. This is because trucks are such massive vehicles that can do a world of good or otherwise. While a truck is a perfect vehicle for hauling much-needed goods across the country, when mishandled, it can be a tool for destruction.

This is why a truck driver needs to pay attention while driving. Large trucks involved in crashes can do much more damage to several more vehicles, property, and humans than a smaller vehicle could. Have you been involved in a truck driving accident? Speak to a truck accident lawyer today to find out how to get compensation for your damages.

Its common knowledge that large trucks like truck trailers and semi-trucks weigh much more than the average passenger car. When it crashes into a smaller car, it is usually more fatal for the occupants of the smaller vehicle.

As such, truck drivers take staying awake and alert very seriously. Employers usually emphasize this during their training. However, sometimes truck drivers ignore these safe driving training and drive while distracted. As you have probably predicted, these episodes seldom end well.

Truck Drivers at Higher Risk for Distracted Driving. What Is Distracted Driving?

Truck Drivers at Higher Risk for Distracted Driving

One would think that the apparent ills of distracted driving would ensure that no long-haul truck driver drives while oblivious. However, this is not the case. Distracted driving is more common than you think it is, and it does lead to serious, sometimes fatal accidents.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers who text and drive are 23 times more likely to get into a serious incident. This includes a vehicle accident or veering into another lane. Also, the risk for truck drivers to get in a severe incident increases six more times when they are talking on a hand-held mobile device.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified three types of distraction. They are:

  • Visual Distractions: These are the ones that involve the driver taking his eyes off the road. It mostly happens when the driver has a phone and is looking at something on it. It could also occur when the driver sees something outside the cab and focuses on that instead of the road. Of course, even when you're driving a small vehicle, this could cause serious problems.
  • Manual Distractions: This involves the driver taking his hands off the wheel. This could occur if the driver is trying to pick a phone call, send a text message, or reach for something within the cab of the truck. While any of these acts would probably take seconds, they could cause a crash within the twinkle of an eye.
  • Cognitive Distractions: These distractions involve the driver taking his mind off driving. Sometimes, when you take your mind off a task you're doing, you could make errors you wouldn't typically make. 

What Is the Law on Texting on Mobile Devices? 

Texting on mobile devices is one of the most prevalent causes of distracted driving. Below we outline what mobile devices cause distracted driving and the FMCSA's restriction against them.

Cellphones

Cell phones are some of the most prevalent causes of distracted driving. You probably have tried to text while driving before or had a friend or family member who did the same. Most people think that they can type on the phone for a quick second and get back to driving, but that split second could cause a fatal crash.

To mitigate against this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created certain restrictions for mobile phone usage from truck drivers. These include the following:

  • A commercial truck driver cannot use any hand-held mobile phones
  • Truck drivers cannot hold a cell phone to make a phone call
  • Truck drivers cannot dial on a cellphone when it involves more than pressing or tapping on a button
  • Truck drivers cannot send, type or draft messages while driving
  • Truck drivers cannot read messages on mobile devices while driving
  • Truck drivers cannot reach for a cellphone in a way that makes them get off or lift-off of their seats.
  • A professional truck driver can only use a hands-free phone located within their reach

Dispatching Devices

The FMCSA also classifies dispatching devices (Qualcomm) as mobile devices. According to them, texting on a dispatching device is the same as texting on another text-capable device (such as a mobile phone). As such, the FMCSA prohibits these devices along with mobile phones.

This means that trucking companies who issue dispatching devices must ensure that they don't ask their drivers to use them while driving. As such, many companies are also adopting a hands-free version for dispatching devices. 

All the rules that apply to a mobile phone apply to dispatching Devices. Also, drivers cannot use them until they have safely pulled over at the side of the road. The authorities can penalize them for using these devices in traffic or during a delay, no matter how long the wait is.

What Are the Penalties for Distracted Driving?

Just like there are penalties for driving smaller vehicles while distracted, truck drivers also face severe penalties when driving distracted.

  • Fines:  If you're a truck driver caught using a hand-held cell phone, you can pay as much as $2,750. The FMCSA can also fine your employer as much as $11,000 if they knowingly allowed or required you to use hand-held devices while driving.
  • Ratings: Violating the rules will affect your employer's Safety Measurement System Ratings.
  • Loss of License: When you disobey these regulations, you might be taken out of service or lose your license. Two serious traffic violations within three years will get a driver disqualified for 60 days, while three violations in three years will put you out of service for 120 days. If it reoccurs too often, you may be totally disqualified.
  • Loss of Income: If you are caught driving distracted, your employer might fire you for breaking this rule and putting other people at risk.
Driver entering truck

How To Prevent Distracted Truck Driving

A truck driver can prevent distracted driving using the following ways:

  • Use a Hands-Free Device: To prevent distracted driving, you should use a hands-free device instead of a hand-held mobile phone. This way, even when you get an important call, you can pick it up while driving without taking your hands or eyes off the road.
  • Stay Behind Your Seat Belt: You should ensure that you keep whatever you might try to reach within reach while driving. Anything that might require you to reach further than your seatbelt allows will very likely distract you from driving.

What Other Factors Can Cause Truck Accidents?

Distracted driving is not the only cause of truck accidents. A few other factors could cause truck accidents.. These include:

  • Intoxicated Driving: Like distracted driving, drunk driving makes the truck driver incapable of managing the truck properly. About 3% of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents have a high blood alcohol content.. Drunk driving a truck is more destructive than driving a smaller vehicle because of the weight of the truck’s trailer
  • Fatigued Driving: Many truck drivers have to travel long distances hauling goods from one location to another. Unfortunately, this can cause fatigue. A tired and sleepy driver is a danger to both himself and other road users. A professional driver should know when he is too tired to pay attention while driving and not get behind the wheel. It is better to pull over by the side of the road and rest than to continue driving in extreme conditions.
  • Lack of Seatbelts: A third of all the truck drivers killed in a fatal truck accident were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident. A seatbelt reduces the risk of injury and death to the truck driver.
  • Speeding: Truck drivers should know better than to speed on the roads. However, sometimes, you find one truck driver who decides to ignore speed limits. Speeding trucks usually end up in fatal crashes. They not only endanger themselves but other road users and property.
  • Driver Shortage: When a driver has to substitute for another driver, this might mean driving for more hours than usual. This is an indirect cause of truck accidents as it could lead to fatigue.
  • Unusually Long Trips: When a driver takes an unusually long trip, he is more prone to getting distracted while driving. He might have to fight off sleep and stress.
  • More Trucks: More companies are using long-haul trucks to transport their products and services. This is why you have probably realized that there seem to be more trucks on the road than you have ever been used to. More trucks on the road could also lead to more truck accidents.
  • Driving Overnight: In many countries, including the United States, truck drivers drive at night to cover long distances with ease. There are fewer road users at night, and as such, it might be easier to haul their goods across state lines. However, nighttime is also when the truck driver is sleepy or tired. In some cases, they would probably contact other drivers who are drunk, tired, or equally distracted. This is a recipe for disaster.
Man drives truck

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one is involved in a truck accident, you should contact us immediately. Our attorneys have years of experience with truck accidents and will ensure that you get the compensation you require. If you are not sure about what steps to take, we will also advise you. Contact us as Calhoun, Meredith, & Sims today for an initial consultation.

Consulta Gratis
crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram