Distracted driving is never safe, and drivers of passenger vehicles cause many deadly accidents by talking on a cell phone, eating and drinking, or looking at a GPS. However, when an 80,000-pound truck is the cause of a distracted driving accident, the chances of victims suffering devastating injuries or dying is greatly increased. Despite how unsafe it is, truck drivers continue to be tempted by distractions that take their eyes and minds off their driving and the road—and sometimes their hands off the wheel.
FMCSA’s Ban on Truck Drivers Texting and Driving
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truckers who are texting when driving are 23 more times likely to cause a crash. To combat this serious problem, FMCSA enacted rules banning truck drivers from texting and otherwise limiting cell phone usage when driving. The regulation bans the following:
- Reading texts
- Dialing a cell phone that involves more than using one button to begin or end a communication
- Holding a cell phone while making or receiving a call
- Requesting access to a web page
- Using any sort of short messaging service, email, or instant messaging
Violations of these rules can include serious penalties, such as a fine of $2,750 and revocation of the commercial license for a trucker and a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for the trucking company. Sadly, despite the known dangers of texting and otherwise using a cell phone while driving a big-rig truck—this completely irresponsible and negligent practice continues.
Using a Cell Phone Is Not the Only Way Truck Drivers Engage in Distracted Driving
There are many electronic devices and other activities that can distract a truck driver—with victims of the crash paying the price. Some of these dangerous distracted driving practices that cause wrecks include:
- Using a portable DVD player or music device
- Using a tablet or laptop
- Fiddling with a GPS
- Adjusting instrument controls
- Eating and drinking
- Looking at a map
- Reaching for another object in the truck
- Reading, such as a newspaper or work-related paperwork
- Looking at the surroundings
What Types of Injuries Do Truckers Cause in Distracted Driving Wrecks?
Distracted driving crashes can cause catastrophic injuries—especially when the truck and passenger vehicle are traveling at high speeds. Some of the injuries that victims commonly suffer include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal injuries—including partial or complete paralysis
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries and other head and brain injuries
- Disfigurement and permanent scarring
- Internal organ damage and bleeding
How Do You Prove That a Trucker’s Distracted Driving Caused Your Crash?
As with any type of truck accident, you must prove that the truck driver was engaging in distracted driving and that this caused your injuries in order to receive the compensation you deserve. Evidence that can help prove this includes:
- Police report. While not admissible in court for legal reasons, a police report stating that the trucker was engaged in some form of distracted driving can be persuasive in negotiations with the trucking company’s insurance adjuster.
- Citation. If the trucker was issued a ticket for some sort of distracted driving violation—such as texting—this could be powerful proof that the trucker was at fault in your wreck.
- Cell phone records. Cell phone records could show that the truck driver was texting or talking on his cell phone when he hit you.
- Witness statements. Witnesses who observed that the trucker was distracted can be compelling proof, especially if they are neutral parties who know no one involved in the accident.
- Trucker admission. While many truckers will not admit they were distracted, some will do so, often when they are questioned by the police.
- Accident reconstruction expert. If the cause of your crash is disputed, you may need to hire an accident reconstruction expert to reenact the sequence of events to confirm that distraction caused your crash.
- In-cab footage. In-cab footage could establish that the trucker was focused on something other than his driving.
- Surveillance tapes. Surveillance tapes from nearby businesses could have recorded the crash and may show that the truck driver was using his cell phone, eating or drinking, or engaging in other distracting practices.
You need to act quickly before important evidence such as surveillance tapes or in-cab footage is destroyed. How do you do this? An experienced truck accident attorney can send the trucking company a spoliation letter to prevent them from destroying important evidence and obtain any surveillance tape before it is recorded over. If you or a family member were hurt in a truck crash caused by trucker negligence, start an online chat to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with David Brauns to learn how he can help you get the compensation you deserve.
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