Large Truck Accidents Caused by Texting and Driving
Texting and driving is one of the main causes of distracted driving accidents. This danger is a serious problem in the trucking industry, where drivers are away from home for long periods of time.Federal Government Enacted Regulations to Combat Texting and Driving Hazards
In order to combat the threat of texting and driving, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted regulations to ban operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) from texting while driving. The basic premise of the new rules is that the driver cannot reach for a cell phone to read a text, hold the phone and review incoming messages, type a text, dial the phone using more than one button, or otherwise interact with a mobile device to make or receive a telephone call. Texting is broadly defined to include entering text into an electronic device or reading any display that comes through an electronic device. Instant messaging, sending or reading e-mails, accessing a web page, or conducting telephone calls using more than a one-touch system all may lead to penalties for the driver and, potentially, the motor carrier for which he works.
The statistics that were compiled and relied upon by the FMCSA in enacting these regulations showed that CMV drivers who are texting are 23 times more likely to be involved in a dangerous situation, which can include crashes, near-misses, and actions such as veering out of the lane of travel unintentionally. According to the report, drivers who were texting removed their focus from the road for approximately four and a half seconds, on average. When a vehicle is traveling at 55 miles per hour, this translates into a distance the length of a football field. A CMV may come into close proximity with quite a few other vehicles during that length of road. The new regulations are intended to limit some of the distractions a truck driver may encounter.Requirements for Compliance and Penalties for Non-compliance
In order to comply with the new federal regulations, a driver should:
- Place any mobile phone in a place where it can be operated without causing the driver to have to reach for it in a manner that would strain seatbelts worn in the proper fashion;
- Have a handheld device in use, including an earpiece or a vehicle system that does not require the driver to pick up the device; and
- Have a voice-activated system or one-touch features to start or stop a call or end a conversation.
If a driver violates these federal regulations, he may be fined up to $2,750 and the company for which he drives may be fined $11,000. If there are multiple violations that lead to convictions, the driver can lose his FMCSA qualification. If the driver violates state laws prohibiting texting and driving, he might lose his commercial driver’s license (CDL) for up to 120 days. Violations also will have a negative impact on the Safety Measurement System (SMS) results, which can have serious consequences for the driver and the motor carrier.Regulations Apply Broadly
These regulations apply to CMV drivers, but not to local, state, or federal government employees. However, they apply to two classes of drivers who typically are excluded from these regulations, which are:
- School bus drivers working for non-government entities and transporting children or school staff between school and home as part of interstate commerce; and
- Small passenger vehicle drivers, where the vehicle is designed to transport between nine and fifteen passengers and the drivers are not receiving direct compensation.
When you are involved in a trucking accident in Maine, the physical harm may be terrible, but the emotional and financial impact also can be devastating. It is important to retain the qualified truck accident attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates to provide the legal assistance that you need to get the compensation that you deserve. To schedule an initial consultation, call as at 1 800.804.2004.