A commercial truck driver has a lot of responsibility—and often faces pressure that can lead to poor decision-making behind the wheel. Among those poor decisions is driving while distracted. That’s a bad choice for anyone, no matter what kind of vehicle they are driving. But a distracted driver behind the wheel of a large commercial vehicle—up to and including a semi-truck—has increased potential to cause serious injury or death to other motorists.
Because of this, commercial drivers can face increased penalties for distracted driving. The hope is that the sterner penalties will serve as an incentive for truck drivers to keep their eyes and their attention on the road.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always enough. Let’s take a look at the rules that are in place—and the grim reasons for those rules.
Federal Rules Against Distracted Driving by Commercial Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has determined that the risk of accidents increases significantly when a truck driver is distracted. Some stats:
- A driver using a cell phone is six times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event (like a collision or a near collision).
- A driver who is texting (sending or reading text messages, emails, or instant messages) is an astonishing 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event.
Because of the clear danger distraction causes, commercial drivers are not allowed to text, access web pages from any device, reach or hold a cell phone, or push more than one button on a device while driving. Drivers must use an earpiece or speakerphone function to make calls. Devices must be voice-activated or activated by a single button for functions like making, answering, and ending calls. Drivers are prohibited from reaching for a cell phone or other device in any manner that requires them to change their driving position while restrained by a seatbelt.
These rules apply nationwide, and drivers who violate them can face fines of up to $2,750. Multiple offenses can lead to the loss of the driver’s commercial license. Meanwhile, employers can be held liable for fines up to $11,000 when one of their drivers violates the distracted driving rules, and their Safety Measurement System rating will decline.
There Are Other Ways to Be Distracted
Of course, phone use and texting are the distractions most often mentioned in conversations about dangerous driving. But they are not the only distractions by any means. Commercial drivers (indeed, all drivers) should also avoid these common causes:
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Changing GPS
- Eating behind the wheel
- Using paper maps, writing notes, or completing paperwork while driving
- Paying too much attention to billboards and other items outside of the vehicle that are not related to traffic safety
Have You Been in an Accident Involving a Distracted Driver?
As we have noted, distracted drivers are far, far more likely to cause an accident. If you are injured in an accident caused by a commercial driver who was distracted, you are entitled to compensation. Your personal injury claim can seek compensation for medical expenses related to the accident, loss of income due to the injuries you sustained in the accident, and pain and suffering you have experienced as a result of the accident.
In the tragic event that a loved one is killed in the accident, you can file a wrongful death claim that seeks damages to cover medical, funeral, and/or burial costs, loss of the deceased future wages, and pain and suffering caused by the loss of companionship.
Our Truck Accident Attorneys Won’t Be Distracted From Helping You
Our experienced truck accident attorneys can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve after being injured by a distracted driver. At SJ Injury Attorneys, our Pasadena personal injury lawyers have the expertise and experience necessary to prevent an insurance company from pressuring you to accept a quick, lowball settlement.
We will diligently seek out all of the details related to the crash and make sure the appropriate parties are held responsible and that you are appropriately compensated. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.