According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study published on Distraction.gov, truckers who text while driving a commercial vehicle are more than 23 times more likely to cause a crash or near-crash than those who refrain from texting while driving. For this reason, FMCSA created truck driver texting and driving rules which make it illegal for a driver to text behind the wheel.
What rules govern truckers’ cell phone use while driving?
FMCSA first passed a rule banning texting and driving in September 2010. In November 2011, the FMCSA went a step further and banned the use of all handheld cell phones during operation of a commercial vehicle. The FMCSA enforces these rules through sanctions for drivers and their employers.
These sanctions include civil penalties up to $2,750 and loss of CDL certification after multiple offenses for the driver. The trucking companies, vicariously liable for their drivers’ behavior, are subject to civil sanctions of up to $11,000 per incident.
In addition to the FMCSA rules, truck drivers are also subject to local, state, and federal laws banning texting and cellphone use while driving.
Note: FMCSA considers the following activities a form of texting:
- Facebooking, Tweeting, or Instagramming
- Short message services
- Instant messaging
- Web surfing
- “Pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a call”
Note: The only reason the law allows drivers to text is communicate with law enforcement in an emergency.
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What is distracted driving?
While texting receives a lot of media attention when it comes to distracted driving, the truth is that anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road is a form of distracted driving. Some of the more common things that distract truck drivers include:
- Talking on the phone (also illegal)
- Watching a video
- Smoking, lighting a cigarette, or searching for a lighter
- Reaching for items out of their immediate reach
- Looking at a map
- Using GPS or another navigation system
- Adjusting the radio
What should I do if I witness a truck driver texting or driving while distracted?
The FMCSA has a complaint system in place to report professional drivers who are driving in an unsafe manner. You can call the FMCSA National Consumer Complaint Database office at 1-888-DOT-SAFT to file a complaint between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday. You can also file a complaint online at any time.
Many trucking companies also employ signs on the rear of their trucks to report dangerous driving. If you opt to file a complaint with the trucking company, do this in addition to the FMCSA report, not instead of.
Who is liable for a truck accident with a distracted truck driver?
Even if a truck driver was clearly texting when he caused your accident, it is likely that the trucking company will be responsible for any damages due to the theory of vicarious liability.
To prove this liability and recover compensation, truck accident victims must provide evidence to prove the trucker’s distraction caused or contributed to the accident. This evidence may include:
- Police reports
- Data from the truck’s black box
- Video from the truck’s surveillance camera
- Hours of service logs
- Eyewitness testimony
For help gathering evidence, be sure to speak with an Ohio truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Truck accident cases require immediate attention to preserve the evidence necessary to prove your claim.
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How can Bressman Law help?
Bressman Law works with the victims of truck accidents to ensure they get the legal representation they need to secure a fair financial award in their case. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a crash caused by a distracted truck driver, contact us today at (614) 538-1116 to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about our services.