Is There an Epidemic of Distracted Truck Drivers?

A recent, fatal accident involving a truck driver who was looking at Facebook photos on his cell phone underscores the serious hazard that distracted truck drivers pose on the nation’s roads.

Commercial truck drivers who are distracted jeopardize the lives of everyone sharing the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that the odds of being in a life-threatening crash, near-crash or unintentional lane deviation are 23.2 times higher for commercial motor vehicle drivers who text while behind the wheel than for those who do not

For this reason, the laws governing the use of mobile devices are especially restrictive for commercial truck drivers. Truckers are prohibited from reaching for or holding a cell phone when they’re driving. Pressing multiple buttons on a mobile device is viewed as illegal. The federal rule applies to truck drivers with commercial driver’s licenses engaged in interstate commerce. Truckers who use mobile phones while driving can face fines up to $11,000.

The law bans texting and reading a mobile device’s screen while driving a commercial vehicle.

However, strict rules on cell phone use don’t always keep the roads safe.

The distracted truck driver that crashed into some parked emergency vehicles in Arizona in May killed an Arizona public safety officer. The truck driver, who was not injured, has been charged with 20 felonies, including second-degree murder. He entered a plea of not guilty and was freed on $200,000 bond.

In his statement to police, the driver said he had been looking over his shoulder at a passing truck when his 18-wheeler hit the police cruiser and several other vehicles. Police investigators say the truck driver was distracted by Facebook photos of scantily clad women on his phone at the time of the accident, according to an ABC News report.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people were killed due to distracted driving crashes in 2011.

Distracted Truck Driving in South Carolina

South Carolina is not immune from serious truck crashes due to distracted driving. Based on South Carolina law and federal regulations, the 18-wheelers that travel through this state could be as long as 53 feet and weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. These dimensions make large trucks a greater danger than passenger vehicles when a serious accident occurs. Any driver involved in a crash with a tractor trailer should speak to a truck accident attorney about your legal rights.