Texting while driving takes the eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field, blindfolded, at 55 miles per hour, as noted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
For standard passenger vehicles, there is an increased risk of a crash stemming from this type of distracting behavior, so imagine the devastation that it could bring when a semi is involved. This has led to stricter federal texting and driving laws in the trucking industry.
Trucking Regulations for Texting and Driving
The FMCSA has placed a ban on texting while driving a large truck. This applies to not only composing a text message but reading one as well. And it’s not just limited to texting applications on a handheld device. It includes dispatching devices, emails, instant messaging and any other form of electronic communication.
Furthermore, truck drivers are restricted from using a handheld device for any other purpose, such as making a phone call or surfing the web. The truck regulations only allow hands-free operation of phone equipment. It can only require the pushing of no more than one button that’s located close enough that a driver doesn’t have to reach for it.
These rules apply to trucks in operation while on the road, at a stop light, in traffic, etc. It does not apply to drivers who have safely pulled over to the side or are stopped in a location where the truck is unmoving, with or without the engine running. The only exception would be an emergency situation in which the trucker must contact law enforcement.
Penalties for Truckers Who Text and Drive
Fines can be significant, up to $2,750 for drivers caught texting and driving. But employers who require or allow truckers to do so could also face a fine as high as $11,000. If there are numerous convictions, the FMCSA can disqualify the driver for as long as 120 days.
The reason for such severe penalties is twofold. One, it can affect Safety Measurement System (SMS) results. These are based on safety performance of trucking companies, including their drivers. Second, a study commissioned by the FMCSA has shown that the risk of a critical event (crashing, nearly crashing) is 23.2 times higher for truckers who text and drive compared to those who don’t.
Filing a Claim When Injured in a Crash Involving a Driver Texting
There are numerous scenarios in which a crash could be the result of a truck driver texting. When this is found to be the case, victims can file an injury claim to recover compensation for their damages.
Unfortunately, injuries in a truck accident tend to be more serious, including the need for compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, mental anguish, disability and more. Victims may sustain head trauma, broken bones, spinal cord damage and whiplash.
In some cases the accident victim may be permanently disabled or disfigured. To ensure that all losses are addressed in a claim, it would be advantageous to speak with a lawyer.
To learn about one’s rights, contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz today. We can investigate if the driver violated federal texting and driving laws and if texting was a factor in the accident. We will also explain the options that may be available to an injured victim or a family who has lost a loved one in a fatal crash.