Did you know that texting is one of the most dangerous things a person can do while driving? A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) revealed that texting while driving may increase one's risk of an accident by 23 times, as compared to a driver who is not distracted. Texting and any type of cell phone use may dramatically increase one's chances of causing a collision.
Now, let's consider a driver who is operating a semi-truck, 18-wheeler or big rig. These large and heavy vehicles are difficult to maneuver even when a driver is not distracted, but when you add a distraction like a cell phone, you have created a perfect recipe for disaster.
That is what happened to a current client of our firm. A truck driver himself, he was involved in a collision with another trucker in the Texas Hill Country. As it turns out, the other truck driver was using his cell phone to look up directions when he collided with our client's 18-wheeler, which left our client seriously injured. Our firm is currently pursuing compensation on our client's behalf, to help him rebuild and recover after this serious accident. Click here to read more about this case.
In light of this incident, we believe it is important to offer helpful insight and information regarding the dangers of truck driver cell phone use.
Driving a commercial motor vehicle is no easy task, which is why drivers are specially trained and licensed. They and their employers are also subject to a number of strict regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), for their own safety and for the safety of everyone on the road. FMCSA regulations include a ban on texting while driving and all hand-held cell phone use by commercial truck drivers and bus drivers.
The FMCSA banned commercial truck and bus drivers from texting while driving in September 2010 and later banned all hand-held cell phone use in November 2011. According to a November 23, 2011 press release regarding the cell phone ban from the U.S. Department of Transportation:
"When drivers of large trucks, buses and hazardous materials take their eyes off the road for even a few seconds, the outcome can be deadly," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "I hope that this rule will save lives by helping commercial drivers stay laser-focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel."
FMCSA research has shown that cell phone use by truck drivers may increase their chances of a collision by three to six times. The risk of a collision is increased threefold even when a truck driver reaches for a cell phone, and the risk is increased by six times when a driver dials a cell phone. Texting while driving is inherently more dangerous, due to the length of time a driver's attention may be taken from the road. VTTI researchers found that the average time to attend to a text message while driving is 5 seconds. If a truck is traveling 55 miles per hour, that is the equivalent of a trucker driving the entire length of a football field, blind.
Another troubling fact about truck accidents is that those who are most often injured are not truck drivers themselves but occupants of other, smaller vehicles. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics from 2012 show that, of all multi-vehicle truck accident victims in the U.S., truck occupants accounted for only 7.8% of fatalities and 17.5% of injuries. Occupants of other vehicles are at the highest risk of injury and death in these accidents.
Truck drivers who violate federal trucking laws by texting while driving or using their cell phones in other ways are truly endangering others more than themselves. Driving vehicles that may weigh 80,000 pounds or even more with special permits, distracted truck drivers present a very real danger to everyone on Texas roadways. At The Daspit Law Firm, we are committed to holding these drivers and their employers accountable for their wrongdoing.
To discuss a case involving an 18-wheeler or big rig driver who was using a cell phone and caused an accident, call a Houston personal injury lawyer at our offices. Your initial consultation is free and strictly confidential.