Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents: Distracted Driver
Distracted Drivers Are Dangerous Drivers
It only takes a brief drive around your city of town to realize that distracted
driving can be a real problem. Be it a kid on a skateboard with ear buds
or a soccer mom with one hand on her cellphone and the other on the steering
wheel of her SUV, or even a delivery driver trying to line up his next
stop, people seem to be unable to go anywhere without their phones. As
much as we may hate to admit it, distracted drivers are here to stay!
Distracted driving need not be restricted to cell phones, as there are
many people who seem to be constantly adjusting their radios or CD players
with an equal number that are distracted by children or by conversations
In response to the epidemic of distracted driver-related accidents, many
cities and states have enacted laws that restrict the use of electronic
devices used by drivers to devices that can be activated by voice commands
from the driver or to devices that can be operated with one hand. These
restrictions apply to commercial vehicle drivers as well.
Federal safety studies have demonstrated that a commercial vehicle driver
is 6 times more likely to be involved in an accident if that driver is
using a cell phone. The same studies also demonstrated that drivers took
their eyes off the road ahead of them for an average of 3.8 seconds. At
posted highway speeds, this translates to a distance traveled of over 300 feet.
Commercial drivers must comply with two sets of laws: the local laws that
apply to wherever the driver happens to be at the time as well as the
regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),
which are be followed “24/7” by all drivers.
The FMCSA specifically prohibit the driver of an 18-wheeler, or any driver
who is operating a commercial vehicle such as a school bus from:
- “texting,” which is defined as “… manually entering
alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device…"
- reaching for, dialing, or using a mobile phone that requires using more
than one button to dial or to answer
- using any electronic device, other than a device that is used to communicate
with a supervisor or a company dispatcher, while the truck is in motion
unless that device can be operated with a single hand
These regulations apply to interstate trucker drivers, bus drivers, and
drivers that are transporting hazardous materials. Drivers must follow
these regulations or they risk losing their commercial driving licenses.
The number of trucking accidents where distracted driving was a factor
is difficult to determine because most states did not begin to keep track
of distracted driving accidents until relatively recently. Although safety
agencies admit that their statistics are incomplete, estimates of the
number of fatalities that are the result of distracted driving by tractor-trailer
drivers range from 50 to 300 per year.
If an 18-wheeler driver is found to have been in a truck accident that
was caused by distracted driving, the driver and his the trucking company
/ employer are liable for any damages that result from that accident.
While it is true that distracted truck drivers can be the cause of 18-wheeler
accidents, proving that the driver was distracted could be difficult to
prove. This is where having a truck accident lawyer on your side can make
a big difference in how, and for how much, your personal injury claim
Many big rigs are now equipped with electronic communication devices that
allow the driver, as well as the company dispatchers, to communicate with
each other whenever the need arises rather than wait for the driver to
stop for a break or some other reason. These devices also record the exact
time a conversation began, the length of the conversation, and even where
the truck was during that time by using the trucks GPS location. Many
of these devices can even record data about the truck’s speed or
when the truck’s brakes were applied!
Gaining access to this data would be difficult, if not impossible, for
the average accident victim because the trucking company has no legal
obligation to share it with anyone. If, however, you are being represented
by a truck accident lawyer the company must give your lawyer a complete
record of the data that was recorded in the period leading up to your
accident. Should they fail to do so, they can be held in contempt of court
or even censured by the state agency that regulates their insurance carrier!
If you were injured in a trucking accident it is in your best interest
to contact an 18-wheeler accident lawyer to represent your personal injury
claim and protect your legal right to claim damages.