Truck drivers may spend up to 11 hours on the road each day. When this much time is devoted to the task of driving, using a handheld device for phone calls, texts, or entertainment may be difficult to resist. However, these activities are considered distracted driving, and a federal law enacted by the U.S. Department of Transportation makes them illegal for commercial drivers due to the alarming number of injuries and fatalities that occur each year as a direct result. According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, there were nearly 1500 accidents involving tractor trailers in 2010. More than 340 resulted in serious injuries, and 16 of the accidents were fatal.
The size of tractor trailers makes them more dangerous
Any person who is driving distracted poses a safety threat because the act of sending or reading a text removes the driver’s eyes from the road for about five seconds. At a speed of 55 miles per hour, this equates to the length of a football field, which is about 100 yards. In a passenger vehicle, this does not give the driver time to react to fluctuations in traffic.
According to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, truck drivers have more potential to cause harm from the same activity because of the length of time it takes to slow the vehicle to a stop. Statistics about the increased danger of distracted driving in a tractor trailer include the following:
- Dialing a cell phone raises the probability of an accident by 3.1 times
- Reaching for a handheld device is 6.7 more likely to cause an accident
- Looking at a map increases the likelihood of an accident by 7 times
- Texting is 23.2 times more likely to cause an accident, posing the greatest threat
Length and weight limits on tractor trailers vary from state to state, but many are over 100 feet long and weigh over 100,000 pounds. A vehicle of this size creates a greater impact and almost inevitably causes a serious injury or fatality.
Harsh penalties have not stopped distracted driving
Between September, 2010 and September, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued nearly 600 tickets to commercial drivers who were texting. Although an increase in enforcement tactics and a large fine of $2,750 for the driver have been somewhat effective, truck accidents continue to take lives every day.
Victims of motor vehicle crashes involving distracted truck drivers often have extensive medical costs and permanent disabilities. A Nevada personal injury attorney with knowledge of the legal system can ensure that adequate compensation is rewarded to cover the effects of these devastating outcomes.