Distracted driving is a huge concern on our roadways and the cause of many traffic accidents. If you look at the car next to you, you may find that the driver sharing the road with you is looking at his or her cell phone or distracted by other things inside or outside of the vehicle. Now, imagine if that driver is a trucker hauling heavy cargo down the road. Considering that tractor trailers can weigh 80,000 pounds and cause a lot of damage in a crash, this is a scary thought.
Unfortunately, distracted driving is a big issue among all drivers—including truck drivers. And while all drivers need to be mindful of their behavior behind the wheel, it is especially critical that truckers driving huge commercial vehicles are even more careful and safe at the wheel.
Common Ways Truck Drivers Get Distracted
When truck drivers take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off of driving—even for a few seconds—it is considered distracted driving and the cause of many serious crashes that result in permanent injuries and fatalities. Sadly, trucking accidents involving distracted truckers are common incidents due to the following truck driver behaviors:
- Texting and other cell phone use. Many truck drivers text while driving or check their email and social media accounts because they are on the road for many hours at a time. Whether they are texting their family, friends, or responding to a work issue, it is considered distracting and dangerous at the wheel of a large moving vehicle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits drivers of commercial motor vehicles from texting, and they define texting for truck drivers as, “manually entering alphanumeric text info, or reading text from, an electronic device.” This includes emailing, instant messaging, searching the internet, and even texting on a company’s dispatch device. Unfortunately, many truck drivers still participate in texting while driving and have caused serious and even fatal accidents.
- Talking on the phone. Just like many truckers participate in texting and driving, the majority of truck drivers talk on their cell phones at some point while they are driving due to the many hours they are away from home. While the FMCSA prohibits the use of hand-held cell phones, truck drivers are free to use hands-free devices to make phone calls. Research shows that even talking on a hands-free device while driving is considered distracted driving. This is because many drivers look down at their phones or push more than a single button to make a phone call. Consequently, their eyes are taken off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off driving.
- Eating and drinking. Because truck drivers are constantly pressured to get to their destinations quickly, they often get fast food and eat and drink on the road; however, even eating while driving is considered distracted driving. Eating a hamburger, drinking a soda, reaching down to get a fry that dropped, or trying to clean up a spill are all things that can increase a truck driver’s chances of causing a crash.
- Looking at maps and GPS. Because truck drivers may be going to a new destination, they may rely on their navigation systems; however, when it leads them astray, they may start checking the GPS system, maps on their cell phones, or even paper maps. Truck drivers should always pull off to the side of the road to determine directions because looking at anything other than the road can increase the likelihood of causing a distracted driving crash.
Because truck drivers are on the road for hours and days at a time, it is normal for them to do things at the wheel other than focus on driving. And because technology is one of the easiest things to access at our fingertips, many truck drivers participate in texting and talking on hand-held cell phones while driving—even though it is illegal. It is bad enough that drivers of passenger vehicles talk on hand-held cell phones or text while driving, but the outcome can be even worse when drivers of large commercial vehicles participate in these same activities.
Speak With An Experienced Virginia Truck Accident Attorney
Truck drivers who cause wrecks by participating in any form of distracted driving need to be held accountable for the losses innocent victims suffered. If you have sustained a serious injury or lost a loved one in a car accident caused by a large truck, it may have been the result of a negligent, distracted truck driver. Our law firm can investigate and provide you with answers to your questions. Contact us today at (703) 721-4233 for a free consultation about your rights.