Truck Drivers and Distracted Driving
Long-haul truck drivers have tough jobs that require them to spend thousands of hours on our roadways each year. Their driving keeps them away from those they love for long periods of time. Countless companies rely on commercial truck drivers to transport their goods all over the country in a safe manner. Most truck drivers are hard-working people who are conscious of the need to drive safely. But large trucks do wind up in serious traffic collisions when a truck driver or a passenger vehicle driver is distracted while behind the wheel. Given the great weight and size of an 18-wheeler, a crash with another vehicle on the highway often results in catastrophic and fatal injuries to people inside the other vehicle. It is crucial for truckers to remain alert and watchful for distracted drivers and be aware of the dangers involved in being a distracted driver behind the wheel of a large commercial truck.
Three Basic Types of Distraction
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicated that there are three basic types of distraction:
- Visual distractions – Involves a driver taking his or her eyes off the roadway;
- Cognitive distractions – Involves a driving taking his mind off the task of driving;
- Manual distractions – Involves a driver taking his or her hands off the steering wheel.
Watch Youtube Video – Truck Driver Distractions and the New Cell Phone Ban.
West Sacramento Distracted Truck Drivers
Making a call on your cellphone while driving, get a ticket. Look at or send a text message while driving, get a ticket. Using a cellphone to text or talk can result in all three types of distraction: visual, cognitive and manual. This is why it is against the law.
When a driver is retrieving a cellphone to look at a text or make a call, he is likely taking his eyes off the roadway to look at the screen to dial a number or to enter a reply to a text. He may also take a hand off the steering wheel (sometimes both) to type a message and while doing so his focus is diverted from potential hazards and traffic around him.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Guidelines
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits the use of all hand-held cellphones by large commercial truck drivers. A rule also handed down by the FMSCA prohibits commercial truck drivers from engaging in the following activities while driving:
- Holding a cellphone to make a call;
- Dialing on a cellphone, which also includes pressing more than one button;
- Reaching for a cell phone in a manner which the driver cannot stay in a seated driving position;
- Reading text messages on a mobile device while driving;
- Texting and driving;
- Typing or drafting messages on a smartphone.
Truck drivers can only utilize a hands-free phone that is located in close proximity.
A California case determined that drivers can use maps on their device without risking a hands-free cellphone ticket. However, a new bill was recently signed in California that greatly expands the restrictions in our state regarding the use of cellphones.
Assembly Bill 1785
Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill 1785. This bill greatly expands California’s restrictions on the use of cellphones behind the wheel. The measure now forbids motorists from “holding and/or operating” their devices for any reason, although it does contain an exception for purposes that require just “a single tap of the driver’s finger or the motion of a single swipe,” so long as the cellphone is mounted on the dashboard or windshield of the vehicle.
Distracted Driving Statistics – Truck Drivers
FMCSA provided the following statistics about distracted truck driving on their website:
- Commercial truck drivers who drive and text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a serious accident—from either an unintentional lane deviation or near-crash to a fatal traffic collision.
- On average, texting requires truck drivers, to take their eyes away from the road for approximately 4.6 seconds (now that is scary).
- The risk of being in a serious crash is 6 times higher for truck drivers who talk on a handheld device.
- When a trucker is proceeding down the highway at 55 MPH, the distance traveled in a 4.6-second time frame is equal to the approximate length of a football field.
Truck Driver Safety
It’s important to point out that a truck driver cannot control the negligent actions of another motorist who is driving carelessly. But a truck driver can attempt to avoid a collision by remaining aware of the drivers surrounding him. It is critical to remember that distracted driving can prevent a truck driver from noticing another motorist’s error and having the time necessary to veer out of the way in order to prevent an accident. Drivers in other vehicles might be texting or talking on their cellphones while driving, and their careless and illegal acts can result in a devastating crash. As the driver of a commercial truck, you can only control your own vehicle and how you safely operate it. If make it a point to remain focused on the roadway and keep alert to the changing traffic conditions ahead, you’re more likely to be able to prevent a deadly crash with a distracted driver.
West Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a West Sacramento truck accident attorney. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in an accident with a large commercial truck, please call me right away at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice.
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Image Attribution for Distracted Truck Drivers – By D’oh Boy from Beatty, Nevada, USA (KW Heavy Hauler) via Wikimedia Commons