States across the US are starting to implement laws in an effort to stop distracted driving. Truck drivers have to follow another set of rules governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They regulate how long a truck driver can be on and off the road and the FMCSA also defines and regulates distracted driving in the trucking industry. Distracted driving is a dangerous practice but distracted truck drivers put private commuters at an even higher risk for severe injury or fatality.
Defining Distracted Driving
Anyone handling an 18-wheeler that is text messaging is twenty-three times more likely to get in an accident. In the simple act of dialing a cellphone, a truck driver is six times more likely to cause an accident. Distracted driving is not just limited to texting and talking on a cellphone. The FMSCA dictates that truck drivers:
- Cannot reach for items that takes them out of the upright seated position.
- Are prohibited from sending and reading text messages while driving.
- Cannot read while driving.
- Prohibited from dialing a phone.
- Prohibited from holding a cellphone.
Pressing more than one button on a cellphone is defined as distracted driving. There have been arguments and studies that indicate hands free devices are distracting and drivers still shift too much focus from operating their vehicle. However, at this time, 18-wheelers are allowed to use hands-free devices because it allows them to keep both hands on the steering wheel. GPS systems track how long a trucker is on the road and can also operate as a hands free communication device.
When truck drivers are not paying attention to driving, they are putting all of us in danger. The FMCSA assesses high financial penalties for any trucker that breaks the rules of the road:
- Fines up to $2,750
- Repeat offenders can be suspended for up to 120 days
- The parent trucking company or organization can face fines of up to $11,000
Local laws still apply on top of the penalties assessed by the FMCSA. Truck drivers still have to pay for any violation of local laws.
Even with the regulations, some truck drivers still continue to practice bad driving habits. If you are in an accident that involves an 18-wheeler it’s important to contact a personal injury attorney that has experience with handling cases involving big truck accidents.
What is important is that you focus on healing and overcoming your injuries. You don’t want to face the insurance company and corporate lawyers from a hospital bed. You need someone that understands the repercussions and the penalties involved when you get into an accident with a distracted truck driver.
Rules of the Road
How to Change Your Distracted Driving Habits
What Causes a Truck Accident?