Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of semi truck accidents today. Despite this, many drivers put themselves and everyone else on the road at risk of being in semi wrecks by allowing themselves to become distracted. If you are a driver, you may not even realize you are doing this. To avoid semi accidents and improve driving safety, read the advice below from drivers to drivers regarding distracted driving.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving as defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the act of operating a motor vehicle while performing other tasks that take attention away from driving. The FMCSA finds that using mobile devices is a main distraction if you operate commercial trucks.
There are certain safety laws in place designed to prevent semi truck accidents caused by distraction. Along with these laws, it is strongly suggested that you not read, dial, or text, and refrain from even holding or reaching for your mobile device while driving.
Mobile Use Associated with Increased Risks
According to a safety study commissioned by the FMCSA, operators who use their mobile devices while driving have a much greater risk of semi wrecks due to distraction. This study suggests that if you text while driving, you are 23 times more likely to be involved in semi accidents. Those making a call or reaching for a device are 6 to 7 times more likely to be involved in a truck wreck.
In contrast, if you use hands-free technology to talk or listen, there is only a slight risk elevation of about 0.5 times the chance of an incident.
Safety Laws and Electronic Devices
Since the use of mobile devices in the cab are one of the main causes of distraction leading to semi truck accidents, it is illegal for commercial drivers to use their phones while operating their trucks. In addition to phones, you must also avoid using dispatch devices that are indistinguishable from phones and cause similar distractions.
According to federal law, the use of a mobile device includes using at least one hand to hold or operate the device, dialing by pressing more than one button, or reaching for a device in such a way that a driver must modify their normal driving position.
As a driver, you should also know that you must still adhere to federal restrictions regarding mobile device use designed to reduce semi wrecks. This is true even though some states have not yet prohibited texting and the use of mobile devices.
Distracted Driving Penalties
If you drive while distracted for reasons such as using a mobile device, being fatigued, or for any other reason, the possibility of being involved in semi accidents increases significantly. Those who drive distracted also face considerable penalties, including fines, required time off from driving, and lower driver safety ratings.
First-time offenses can result in a fine up to $2,750. Second and third-time offenses may result in an operator being taken off the road for 90 to 120 days. Your employer may also be fined as much as $11,000 if you are allowed to use handheld devices while on the road. In addition to federal punishments, you may also be subject to other penalties handed down by your employer.
Although the use of mobile devices is a big source of driver distraction and results in many semi truck accidents, experienced commercial operators know that all distractions can compromise a driver’s ability to drive properly. Anything that reduces your attention, decision-making abilities, or reaction time increases the chance of semi wrecks and should be avoided. Staying safe on the highways without increasing risk of semi accidents requires drivers to leave any distractions for later!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190