A landmark study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that 71 percent of commercial vehicle crashes happened at a time when the driver was doing something other than solely driving the truck. These shocking statistics reflect a growing problem in the trucking industry.
Distractions are dangerous for any driver, but the risks are compounded when operating a heavy tractor-trailer that takes more time to stop and is more difficult to maneuver to avoid a crash. When a crash with a distracted truck driver does occur, the consequences are usually devastating.
Personal injury attorney Bill Berenson regularly handles claims involving distracted truck drivers. We pursue your maximum possible damages, often under multi-defendant claims against the trucker and trucking corporations. We conduct a full investigation to determine whether distraction played a role in your truck accident. We may subpoena phone records to pinpoint times of calls, text messages, data downloads and social media postings. We also analyze black box data for signs of behavior that is consistent with distraction, such as lane drift or failure to apply the brakes.
For good reason, substantial focus has been on the distractions of texting and cell phone use. However, other distractions that pose an equally serious risk include viewing an object outside the truck, responding to dispatchers, following GPS directions, and eating and drinking.Commercial Vehicle Texting While Driving Regulations
The FMCSA prohibits truck drivers from texting while behind the wheel. Under this regulation, the definition of texting includes virtually any activity with an electronic communication device, including surfing the Internet, emailing, instant messaging, engaging in social media and writing or reading a text message.
While typing, reading or sending a text, the trucker’s eyes and hands are diverted from the road. Even a few seconds may be too long to give the driver time to brake should he encounter an obstruction in the road ahead.Using a Handheld Cell Phone While Driving a Truck
The risk of being in a safety critical event increases six-fold when a truck driver is using the phone. Using a handheld phone is not only dangerous, but illegal under FMCSA rules. Using a handheld phone is broadly defined as holding the phone in at least one hand, pressing more than one button to dial or maneuvering out of a seat belted, seated position to reach for the phone.
Drivers are permitted to use voice-activated dialing, a speaker function or an earpiece synched with a hands-free device. Although the law exempts hands-free phone use from the FMCSA regulations, hands-free does not equal risk free. A National Safety Council study found that activity in the region of the driver’s brain that processes moving images declines by up to one-third when talking and listening on a hands-free phone. The driver may miss up to 50 percent of objects outside their windshield when using any type of cell phone.Who is Liable for Distracted Driving?
If a driver violates distracted driving laws, he FMCSA may impose fines on both the driver and the employer and disqualify the driver from holding a commercial license. Unfortunately, these penalties are not enough to fully discourage cell phone use and texting.
Our law firm holds the trucking corporation liable for injuries you sustained from a distracted driver. First, the employer may be responsible for its employee’s negligence through a theory known as respondeat superior. When investigating your claim, we also review negligent corporate policies that encourage or tolerate distracted driving activities. For example, the employer may be directly liable for your damages if it required the driver to check in, answer dispatches right away or call customers from the road.Hold the Trucker and Trucking Company Liable for Your Injuries After a Distracted Driving Crash
You may have a cause of action against the driver and trucking company if the driver was texting, talking on a phone or otherwise distracted at the time of your accident. Call Berenson Injury Law at 817-885-8000 for a free consultation to discuss your case with our Dallas-Fort Worth truck accident attorney. Our firm handles all truck accident claims on contingency so your pursuit of your rightful damages is risk-free.