Distracted Truck Drivers Can Be Deadly

By Greg Kohn

Why is distracted truck driving so dangerous?

Distracted driving is a significant problem for drivers of any vehicle, but can prove especially deadly when the distracted driving is operating an 80,000-pound tractor trailer.  Distracted truck drivers are believed to kill hundreds of individuals annually.  According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), truck drivers are over 20 times more likely to be involved in an accident if they are texting or using a cell phone.  Our experienced Essex County, New Jersey distracted driving accident lawyers at Nagel Rice explore the dangers of distracted truckers below.

Federal Distracted Trucking Laws

The FMCSA banned the use of handheld electronic devices for truckers in 2012.  Under the law, all truck drivers operating vehicles that exceed 10,000 pounds are not allowed to hold, dial, or reach for a handheld cell phone while operating the vehicle.  Drivers can use a cell phone if they are safely pulled to the side of the road.  Hands-free devices are permitted.  Drivers who violate the federal ban on cell phone use will face hefty fines in the amount of $2,750.

Types of Distracted Driving Among Truck Drivers

Cell phone use is not the only potentially distracting behavior that truck drivers can display.  Other typical distractions for truck drivers include:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Personal grooming
  • Texting
  • Using a navigation system
  • Adjusting the radio or other audio device
  • Reading
  • Watching a video

Truck drivers are behind the wheel for long stretches of time.  As such, they may face increasing pressure to engage in the above mentioned distracting behaviors.  While texting and driving is perhaps the most dangerous of distracting behaviors, any action that pries a truck driver’s eyes, hands, and attention off the road can potentially prove deadly.

At 80,000 pounds, a tractor trailer requires far greater a stopping distance than a car.  In fact, if traveling at 55 miles per hour, a truck will need twice the distance to stop as a passenger motor vehicle.  As such, if a truck driver even briefly glances away from the road and then looks up to find an obstacle ahead of him or her, the truck may not be able to stop in time.  Innocent drivers and passengers in smaller passenger motor vehicles could be gravely at risk due to the actions of a distracted truck driver.  Anyone injured by a suspected distracted trucker should contact a tractor trailer lawyer as soon as possible.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.