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Distracted driving and commercial vehicle operators

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2016 | Car Accidents, Firm News |

Commercial vehicle operators keep the wheels of the economy turning for everyone in Louisiana, and for people right across America. Most of the products you purchase every day are delivered by truck. And many truck drivers spend long hours away from home to make sure those products are there when you want them.

Since so many drivers are away from friends and family for extended periods, and because their office is on the road, it’s no wonder many choose to stay in touch by using a cellphone. Unfortunately, even though they are professional drivers, commercial vehicle operators are just as prone to distracted driving as you are if they have a phone in their hands. In fact, in 2014, the second most common factor in driver error-caused accidents involving large trucks was distraction.

Cellphone rules for truck drivers

To try and combat driver distraction, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has laid out very strict regulations for cellphone use by commercial drivers. Some of those rules include:

  • Required use of an earpiece or speaker phone
  • Use of voice-activated dialing
  • Use of hands-free function where the phone can be operated by pressing a single button

Distracted driving is dangerous driving, no matter what kind of vehicle you may have. The danger is enhanced, however, when that vehicle is a large commercial truck, such as a semi. FMCSA data shows that a crash or near-crash is six times more likely if a commercial vehicle driver is dialing a phone. At highway speed, the average dialing time of 3.8 seconds equals 306 feet of not looking at the road.

Commercial vehicle operators caught using a cellphone while driving face fines up to $2,750. Their employers may also be fined up to as much as $11,000. Multiple violations can result in disqualification of the driver’s commercial license in the state where the offense happened.

The dangers of commercial truck accidents

The risks of a distracted truck driver to you are pretty clear: collisions between large trucks and cars seldom favor the car. Even a near miss with a swerving semi can be dangerous: It could force you into oncoming traffic and a head-on collision; into another lane, which may also be occupied; or onto a soft shoulder, where it can be hard to maintain control of your vehicle.

Accidents involving passenger vehicles and commercial trucks often end catastrophically. You may suffer from severe injuries, and your car may sustain extensive damage. The costs associated with an accident might include:

  • Hospitalization
  • Prescription drugs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Lost wages

What to do after an accident with a commercial vehicle

Trying to recoup your losses after an accident caused by a distracted commercial truck driver may be difficult, especially if the driver works for a large company that’s financially prepared to fight you in court.

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a large truck, choosing a law firm that offers free consultations and collects fees only after successful outcomes will ensure that you, too, have access to high-quality counsel.