Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

Auto and Truck Accident Attorney Pistotnik Discusses Distracted Driving

Bradley A. Pistotnik © 2015

The average truck driver spends at least 60 to 70 hours per week on the road traveling across the country. Truck drivers who do not pay attention can become disoriented, where they weave back and forth across lanes of travel improperly moving across lines that are placed there for safety. Truck drivers may become bored after certain periods of time. This is the reason for the fatigue rules on the maximum hours-of-service. Some truck drivers will multitask and perform other activities, such as talking on the phone, texting, eating while driving and using computers and operating message Board’s regarding the place for each delivery. When a truck driver is fully loaded and at maximum weight it is more important that he pay full attention to the road.

A number of studies have been done on the ability of truck drivers to stay focused and attentive to the traveled roadway. In one study, they tracked a truck driver over 6 second period of attentiveness while driving. It was found that some drivers can divert their eyes for as long as 4.6 seconds out of a six second period. Utilizing a speed of sixty M.P.H. would result in the driver traveling eighty-eight feet per second. If the driver took his eyes off of the traveled roadway for 4.6 seconds at sixty M.P.H. he would travel 404.80 feet which is longer than a football field. Using this type of thought process, you can see how even a one or two second variation away from the roadway could cause an accident.

Another study of truck drivers and distracted driving found that when a truck driver takes the time to dial a cell phone number while traveling on the road the chances of having an accident increased by approximate 5.9 times. When the truck driver attempts to reach for his phone while driving, the likelihood of a trucking accident increases by 6.7 times. When the truck driver looks at a map or a message device through dispatch, it increases the likelihood of an accident by 7 to 8.9 times more than without such activity, respectively. The driver looking at message boards and on-board computers is much more likely to cause an accident. In other words, the truck driver must keep his eyes on the road. Even brief inattention can cause disaster.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations prescribe that it is unlawful to text while driving. This regulation is extremely important for safety. The FMCSR has published on the Internet an article entitled, Limiting the Use of Wireless Communication Devices. The final rule published under 75 F.R. 59118 prohibits texts by commercial motor vehicle drivers while operating in interstate commerce, and imposes sanctions, including civil penalties and disqualification from operating CMV’s in interstate commerce for drivers who fail to comply with this rule. Motor carriers are prohibited from allowing their drivers to engage in texting while driving. There are a list of disqualifying offenses. Recent research commission by the FMCSR shows that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event which is a near-crash or unintentional lane deviation event is 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who engage in texting while driving than for those who do not. The rulemaking under this particular rule is for the purpose of increasing safety on the nation’s highways by reducing the prevalence of or preventing certain truck and bus related crashes, fatalities and injuries associated with distracted driving.

These rules are very strict and apply to both the truck driver and their employer and motor carrier who is supervising them in their job duties. The known risk of danger with texting is not acceptable for the driver of a large tractor-trailer. It is a rule that must always be followed.