Everyone knows how distracting a cell phone can be when you’re behind the wheel. In 2014 alone, 3,179 people were killed in accidents that reportedly involved distracted driving. Most of us would hope that people who drive professionally, like commercial truckers, would be more sensible than the general population in this regard.
Unfortunately, a number of reports from media outlets and law enforcement officials indicate that isn’t the case. According to a report from CBS Boston, texting and general phone use are chronic problems among professional truck drivers.
Investigators from the news station spent hours watching video footage of truckers on the road and saw numerous instances of the drivers talking, texting, and looking at their phones.
In addition, when asked directly about distracted driving in the industry, truck drivers said they frequently saw colleagues engaging with their cell phones behind the wheel (though few would admit to doing so themselves).
Federal law prohibits commercial drivers from texting and driving, so even in the few states that don’t ban all drivers from texting behind the wheel (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana), truck drivers shouldn’t be able to get away with cell phone-impaired driving. However, as with most distracted driving, catching distracted truck drivers and enforcing the law isn’t easy — at least not until it’s too late.
Why It’s So Hard for Police to Crack Down on Texting and Driving
One of the biggest challenges police officers face in enforcing hands-free laws for truck drivers is simply seeing the illegal action. Most police cars are far closer to the ground than the driver’s seat in a truck, and many truck drivers hold their phones near their laps to avoid detection.
Another factor is radio communication. Truck drivers often hear police communications coming through on their radios and can minimize cell phone use when they know officers are in the area.
Finally, being a repeat offender doesn’t necessarily keep texting drivers off the road. Because of regulatory loopholes that allow known dangerous drivers to apply for new numbers with different companies, drivers who habitually use their phones can wind up back behind the wheel far too easily.
In fact, the investigation from CBS Boston came across a driver who had gotten another texting ticket earlier that same day and was actually very close to losing an operator license for various violations.
We should all abstain from texting or using our cell phones in any way when behind the wheel. Truck drivers in particular need to be even more vigilant, as the enormous mass of their vehicles means they can cause great damage with even a small mistake. However, until police officers get a better view of what’s happening in the driver’s seat, enforcing the laws on cell phone use and texting and driving in the trucking industry will continue to pose a major challenge.
Crosley Law Firm: Advocating for Truck Wreck Victims
At Crosley Law Firm, our attorneys know that even the most careful drivers can be the victims of someone else’s careless behavior. If you or someone you know has been injured or even lost a loved one in a trucking accident, please call our offices right away at 210-LAW-3000 or fill out our convenient online contact form to schedule your free initial case review. We’ll listen to the details of your story, deliver honest and informed advice about your legal options, and help you decide what your best course of action is going forward.
2014 crash data key findings. (2015, November). US Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812219
Distracted driving: What you need to know. (2014, December 18). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/driver-safety/distracted-driving
General statistics, state by state, 2014. (2016, February). Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute. Retrieved from http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview
I-team: police have trouble cracking down on texting truckers. (2015, November 6). CBS Boston. Retrieved from http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/11/06/i-team-police-have-trouble-cracking-down-on-texting-truckers/
Large truck and bus crash facts 2014. (2016, April 15). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2014
Relative contribution/fault in car-truck crashes. (2013, February). American Trucking Associations. Retrieved from http://www.trucking.org/ATA%20Docs/News%20and%20Information/Reports%20Trends%20and%20Statistics/02%2012%2013%20–%20FINAL%202013%20Car-Truck%20Fault%20Paper.pdf
Traffic ticket and DUI penalties for commercial drivers. (2012, July 24). DMV.org. Retrieved from http://www.dmv.org/articles/traffic-ticket-and-dui-penalties-for-commercial-drivers/
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