If you have ever seen or been involved in a truck accident, you know how that it is much more serious than a crash between normal passenger cars. Trucks are higher off the ground, resulting in a collision that misses a car's fenders and other protective equipment that is meant to minimize the damage from the crash. Worse, trucks are far larger and heavier than passenger vehicles and other cars. While cars are usually around 3,000 pounds, even empty trucks weigh ten times that amount. Tractor trailers that are full, on the other hand, weigh close to 80,000 pounds. When all of this weight gets involved in a collision with your vehicle, it can result in serious or even fatal injuries.
Despite these dangers, truck drivers often drive while distracted. Just like when car drivers are distracted while on the road, this increases the chances that the trucker will cause a serious car accident. Unfortunately, when these accidents do occur, the victims are almost always the people in the vehicles that the truck hits. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in fatal accidents that involve large trucks, it is the occupants in the other vehicles involved that are killed 85% of the time.
Distracted Truck Driving Causes Accidents
It is well known that driving a car while distracted is dangerous. Numerous studies have connected distracting activities like texting on a cell phone to an increase in the chances of a car accident. However, even though there has not been a similar amount of attention to the impact on truck drivers, it does not take a stretch of the imagination to think that the results would be similar.
In fact, one of the few studies that investigated distracted driving and focused on commercial drivers found was done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This study found that texting typically took a truck driver's eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. Assuming that the truck driver was going 55 miles per hour, this meant that the trucker would travel the length of an entire football field without looking at the road. Because of this distraction, the FMCSA's study found that truck drivers who were texting were 23.2 times more likely to cause a truck accident than those who were not texting at the time of the accident.
This number is astounding, especially considering how much more severe truck accidents are than normal accidents.
Car accidents caused by distracted driving already account for thousands of injuries and deaths every year. The Insurance Information Institute (III) has found that distracted drivers were behind ten percent of all of the fatal car crashes in the U.S. in 2015, and fourteen percent of all accidents that year. This resulted in 3,477 fatalities and an estimated 391,000 injuries in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
To make matters even worse, studies are suggesting that distracted driving is making the problem of vehicle accidents even more pronounced. Reports have found that the total number of fatalities from road accidents has increased dramatically in the past few years, and that this increase is not due to there simply being more vehicles on the road – the number of crashes per mile driven has increased, as well. This means that drivers in the U.S. are simply getting worse, and distracted driving is a likely culprit.
Regulations Prohibit Truckers from Cell Phone Use
In response to the dangers of distracted truck driving, the FMCSA issued a regulation back in 2010 that prohibited commercial drivers – including bus and truck drivers – from texting while they were behind the wheel. This regulation made texting while driving a civil offense for commercial drivers, punishable by up to $2,750 in fines. Multiple offenses could even lead to a truck driver losing his or her license. Additionally, trucking companies could also face fines if their drivers were caught texting while driving. Under the regulation, these companies could be fined up to $11,000 for letting it happen in their vehicles.
An important part of the FMCSA's regulation is that it comes from the federal government, not just from one of the states. This makes it apply to the entire country, rather than just to one small section of it, and highlights how important the issue has become. With that said, though, many states – 30 of them, plus the District of Columbia – have already passed laws that prohibit all drivers, including commercial drivers and truck drivers, from texting while behind the wheel.
D.C. Truck Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
When a truck accident is caused by a distracted truck driver, it can be especially frustrating because it is completely preventable. There is no reason why drivers – whether they are driving a normal passenger car or a huge tractor trailer – cannot pull over to the side of the road if they need to send a text or simply wait until they reach their destination or come to a scheduled stop.
However, when a trucker is driving while distracted, it is far more serious than when a car driver is doing it. Truck drivers are responsible for vehicles that are many times the size of a passenger vehicle and can cause a severe or fatal accident if they are not careful. Unfortunately, it is the other people on the highway who are far more likely to be the ones who suffer in such a collision.
This is why the personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian represent victims of truck accidents. By working for you both inside and outside of the courtroom, we can ensure you get the compensation that you need and deserve to make a full recovery after the accident. Contact us online or call our law office at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.