Distracted Truck Drivers Using a Cell Phone
The fact that texting and driving is a problem of epidemic proportions is undisputed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and researchers nationwide have done extensive studies, which prove this fact time and time again. NHTSA describes distracted driving as any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger drivers, passengers and others on the roadway. Examples of distractions while driving include texting, talking on a cell phone, eating or drinking, using a navigation system or surfing the Internet.
Critical Facts about Texting and Driving
Just in the year 2010, more than 3,092 people lost their lives in crashes that involved distracted driving. Texting while driving, according to NHTSA, is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving while intoxicated. For example, a person who is texting and driving is as impaired as a person who is driving after drinking four beers.
Driving while distracted by anything is dangerous. But what makes texting and driving dangerous, especially for truckers who are handling 80,000-pound vehicles? Texting distracts a driver manually, cognitively and visually. What this means is that the trucker takes his hands of the wheel, his mind off the act of driving and his eyes off the roadway. This means that a truck driver handling a large vehicle would be unable to perceive roadway hazards in a timely manner and react to them properly.
Are These are Preventable Accidents?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees commercial carriers in the United States, defines a preventable accident as one that occurs because the driver fails to act in a reasonably expected manner to prevent it. For a truck driver, texting while driving means driving an 80,000-pound truck blind or unmanned for an extended period or time. In four or five seconds, a truck traveling at 70 mph, will traverse the length of two football fields.
Florida Laws and Liability Issues
Federal law expressly prohibits truck drivers from texting and driving. F.M.C.S.R Section 392.80 states that “no driver shall engage in texting while driving.” It also states that “no motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to engage in texting while driving.” This constitutes a strict liability provision for a motor carrier or trucking company when a trucker uses a cell phone to text while driving. This also means that trucking companies cannot turn a blind eye and allow their employees to text while driving. If they do so and create a dangerous environment within their company or organization, they can be held liable or accountable for it.
In addition, a commercial driver who is determined to have violated the federal texting law can be disqualified from driving for set periods. For example, a driver with a second violation may be disqualified for a period of 60 days or a driver with a third violation can be disqualified for 120 days. In cases where a commercial truck driver is involved in a crash due to texting and driving, a Jacksonville truck accident lawyer will be able to explore all these legal issues and examine them thoroughly from the perspectives of both the driver and his employer.