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Texting and Driving Laws and Statistics for Truck Drivers

Most motorists know about the dangers of texting while driving, but many people continue to do it anyway. While teens and young adults are most likely to text while driving, other demographics are not immune to this common distraction. While the law varies from state to state, drivers of all ages should abstain from texting while driving.

For truck drivers, there is a federal law banning texting while driving. On October 27, 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted a law prohibiting commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving. This law was put into place to prevent truck accidents due to distracted driving.

Distracted driving is a huge issue on roadways throughout California and the rest of the country. In 2015, distracted driving led to 3,477 fatalities. This was the highest number since at least 2010. That same year, 391,000 people were injured due to distracted driving.

Why Texting is an Issue

There are many things that can distract you while driving, Talking on the phone, applying makeup, eating and changing the radio station are some examples. Of all the various forms of distracted driving, texting is by far the worst.

There are three types of distractions: visual, manual and cognitive. Texting combines all three of these distractions. It is a visual distraction because sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. If you are driving at a speed of 55 mph, this is the equivalent of a football field—371 feet. It is also a manual distraction because you must take your hands off the wheel to text someone. Texting is also a cognitive distraction because you are not focused on the task of driving. You would rather read or send a text than keep your eyes on the road.

No Texting Rule

Truck drivers who text are 23.2 times more likely to cause an accident than those who don’t. Therefore, the FMCSA has established the No Texting Rule to reduce the risk of truck accidents.

Texting involves the use of an electronic device to manually enter words in order to send a text message. Under this law, simply reading a text message is also considered texting since it takes your eyes off the road.

While “electronic device” typically refers to cell phones, other prohibited devices include pagers, computers, laptops, tablets and other devices that have the capabilities to write, read, send and receive text. Fleet management systems and dispatching units are not prohibited under this law. Drivers are allowed to make and receive calls using a hands-free headset only. No handheld devices can be used.

This No Texting Rule also bans emails, instant messaging, accessing webpages and the use of more than one button to make or terminate a phone call. Drivers who are caught texting while driving can be disqualified from truck driving by the FMCSA for up to 120 days. Drivers may face fines of up to $2,750. Employers who allow drivers to use handheld devices for texting or other purposes can be fined as much as $11,000.

Distracted Driving Statistics

More than 2.5 million Americans are involved in motor vehicle accidents every year. Cell phones are involved in 1.6 million of those crashes—a whopping 64 percent. Distracted driving accounts for 421,000 injuries. Approximately 25 percent of accidents in the United States are caused by texting while driving.

Surprisingly, drunk driving is safer than driving while texting. Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than drinking and driving. That’s how distracting texting can be, yet people don’t realize it.

While most people spend an average of five seconds to read a text message, it takes just three seconds for an accident to happen. Just three seconds checking your phone and not focusing on the road can cause an injury accident—or even a fatality.

Two People Dead Following Truck Crash

According to reports, the driver of a big rig choked on some food, lost consciousness behind the wheel, and plowed through a dividing guardrail, striking a BMW and causing both vehicles to catch fire.  The two occupants of the BMW are believed to have died on impact.  The accident, which was reported at about 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 28th 2013, shut down at least one side of the highway, I-80 in California, for several hours.  In addition to striking the BMW, the big rig jackknifed and struck several other vehicles on the roadway, but no other serious injuries were reported.

Who is Responsible for a Truck Crash?

When an accident involving a big rig occurs on the highway, there are several people and entities that may be held responsible.  Primarily, in a case involving a driver who lost consciousness, the driver and the driver’s employer are the two most likely parties to be named in a personal injury lawsuit.  If other factors contribute to a driver’s inability to control the truck, like an improperly secured load, individuals responsible for contributing to the other factors may also be held responsible.

When Accidents Cause Death

When another party is responsible for an auto accident that results in a death, the survivors of the deceased victim are allowed to pursue wrongful death charges.  Wrongful death charges allow survivors to collect damages from anyone who was responsible for the death.  Those damages may be awarded in the form of monetary compensation for loss of consortium, expenses related to dealing with the death like medical and funeral expenses, and, if the deceased was a breadwinner, compensation for earnings which the deceased can no longer provide for his or her household.

What if No Criminal Charges are Filed?

In the United States, it doesn’t matter whether or not criminal charges are pursued, injury victims and survivors of accident victims are allowed to pursue civil charges in court.  Unlike criminal charges, civil charges are brought by individual citizens, not by public prosecutors.  Also, while the consequences of criminal charges typically include a loss of freedom and the imposition of fines, only monetary loss is a consequence of civil charges.  The idea of letting private citizens seek retribution in the form of monetary compensation is an old legal principle that seeks to deter “eye for an eye” justice while still giving accident victims a form of redress.

Cut and Dry Cases

Cases that could be described as “cut and dry” are rare in the legal world.  Most cases will involve laws and rules with which a victim or victim’s survivor is unfamiliar.  Even if a case seems simple on its face, failure to present a legal argument properly can result in a legitimate victim being unable to collect the compensation he or she deserves.  For best results, accident victims and survivors of deceased victims are encouraged to work with an experienced semi truck accident lawyer / wrongful death attorney from the outset of a case.  This way, parties seeking compensation can be sure that they have the best possible chance of collecting everything that they deserve.

Reach Out to a Car Accident Attorney in Hollywood for Help

Truck accident cases are very complicated. Proving that a truck driver used a cell phone while driving can be difficult without solid evidence.

Truck accidents can cause serious injuries and multiple parties can be held liable for them. Don’t handle a case like this on your own.

If you were injured in an accident because the truck driver was using a phone while driving, make sure you protect your legal rights. The Hollywood car accident attorneys at Fisher & Talwar will help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact our legal team at (213) 891-0777 to schedule a one-on-one meeting with an attorney who can explain your legal options.