The FMCSA’s Distracted Driving Rules for Commercial Truck Drivers
Even though Texas has not issued a complete ban on texting while driving, did you know that federal regulations makes it illegal for truck drivers in Texas to send or read text messages behind the wheel? Numerous studies have demonstrated the dangerous consequences of texting in the driver’s seat, and the risks of a serious accident are compounded when that driver’s seat is located in the cab of a tractor trailer, 18-wheeler or other large commercial truck.
Just how dangerous are distracted truck drivers? Consider this statement in the Background of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) rules prohibiting commercial truck drivers from texting behind the wheel:
“It is likely that most Americans either ha[ve] firsthand experience with or know someone who had a motor vehicle crash or near-crash event involving a distracted driver. With the exponentially increasing use of electronic devices, numerous crashes, and other incidents related to distracted driving in recent years, expedited Federal action is required.”
FMCSA: Texting is the Most Dangerous Form of Driving Distraction for Truckers
According to the FMCSA’s data texting is by far the most dangerous form of distraction for truck drivers. Texting makes a truck driver 23 times more likely to cause a crash or near-crash incident. The second most dangerous form of distraction, performing complex tasks such as cleaning a side mirror, is less than half as dangerous (making truck drivers 10 times more likely to be involved in an accident). The other leading forms of truck driver distractions identified by the FMCSA include:
- Communicating with dispatch
- Writing on a pad or notebook
- Using a calculator
- Looking at a map
- Dialing a cell phone
- Reading a book, newspaper or paperwork
- Reaching for an electronic device
- Performing moderately-complex tasks (such as opening a bottle of medicine)
The FMCSA’s rules specifically prohibit interstate truck and bus drivers from texting or otherwise using handheld cell phones while operating their vehicles. Drivers who violate the rules can face steep fines (up to $2,750) and disqualification, and trucking companies that allow or require their drivers to use their phones behind the wheel can be fined up to $11,000.
What to Do if You Have Been Injured by a Texting Truck Driver
Not only is texting a federal violation for truck drivers, but in many cases it can also be grounds for accident victims to seek financial compensation. Texting and driving is dangerous – that is a fact that has been scientifically proven several times over. When a driver’s decision to text behind the wheel leads to an accident, that driver can (and should) be held responsible.
How can you prove that a truck driver was texting? There are potentially a number of different ways. These can include using the truck driver’s own statements in a police report, or obtaining a copy of the driver’s phone records after filing a claim for compensation. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a trucking accident and you suspect that the driver may have been texting behind the wheel, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation.
Contact Morrow & Sheppard LLP about Your Truck Accident Claim
At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, we offer free consultations to truck accident victims in the greater Houston area, and we do not charge any legal fees unless we help you secure financial compensation. To find out if you have a claim for an accident caused by a distracted truck driver, call (800) 489-2216 or request to speak with a Houston truck accident lawyer online today.