Are you struggling with serious injuries sustained in an accident involving a distracted trucker? Driving while distracted is dangerous, but it is even worse when the distracted driver is behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound truck. 18-wheelers are much larger and heavier than other vehicles and can cause more harm in a crash. Even a momentary distraction can have devastating consequences, including severe injuries, and other losses.
If you have been injured in an accident with a commercial truck driver in South Carolina, contact the Joye Law Firm right away. Our South Carolina truck accident lawyers have more than 250 years of combined experience helping injured people rebuild their lives. Several of our attorneys are nationally known for their experience in truck accident cases and are frequent speakers at national truck litigation seminars. Let our skilled team review the details of the accident in which you were injured and discuss how we may assist you, leaving no stone unturned in our quest for justice.
Call 888-324-3100 for a free initial consultation at any of our offices across South Carolina.
Distracted Driving Laws for Motorists
It is against South Carolina’s law for any driver to use a handheld cell phone or another wireless communication device to compose, read or send text messages while operating a vehicle, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. Using hands-free communication systems is allowed.
Distracted Driving Laws for Truckers
Commercial truck drivers who operate in South Carolina face tight restrictions on the use of cell phones while driving. Federal rules administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) bar drivers of commercial trucks from using hand-held mobile devices behind the wheel. The rules prohibit a commercial truck driver from holding a cell phone or making a call if the driver needs to press more than one button to make the call. Hands-free communication devices are allowed under FMCSA rules.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), a truck driver may face driver disqualification for multiple violations of using a hand-held mobile phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle as well as penalties of up to $2,750 for drivers and $11,000 for truck companies that allow drivers to use hand-held phones while driving.
Research by the FMCSA indicates that the odds of a truck driver being involved in a truck crash or near-crash are six times greater if the driver is engaged in dialing a mobile phone while driving.
What Are the Different Types of Distracted Driving?
Regardless of whether someone is driving a car or a truck, there are multiple types of distractions while driving:
- Cognitive distractions — A cognitive distraction is anything that takes a driver’s concentration away from driving. Talking on the phone while driving is an example of a potential cognitive distraction, even if you’re watching where you’re going.
- Manual distractions — A manual distraction is anything that takes one or both of a driver’s hands off the wheel. Typing numbers or messages on a cell phone, reaching for something in the car, snacking, or grooming are examples of manual distractions.
- Visual distractions — A visual distraction is anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road. Texting while driving is a common example of a visual distraction. Drivers who were dialing cell phones took their eyes off the roadway for approximately 3.8 seconds, which is enough time at 55 miles per hour for a vehicle to travel the length of a football field without the driver looking at the road ahead, USDOT says.
- Auditory distractions — An auditory distraction is something that prevents a driver from hearing what’s going on around them. If your music or passengers are too loud while you’re driving, that could be an auditory distraction.
Texting while driving requires you to take at least one hand off the wheel, takes your eyes off the road, and prevents you from concentrating on getting to your destination safely. This means it qualifies as a cognitive, manual, and visual distraction all at the same time.
Proving Distracted Driving Caused Your Accident
If driver distraction is suspected as a contributing factor in a truck accident in South Carolina, our attorneys at Joye Law Firm would seek evidence during our investigation to show the truck driver was distracted at the time of an accident. We would work to gather the following types of evidence:
- Police accident reports — In some cases, a truck driver may admit to being distracted when questioned by police. We may have the police officer who responded to the accident provide testimony as to the findings of the accident report.
- The truck’s electronic data recorder — Most trucks are now required by the FMCSA to be outfitted with electronic devices that monitor the truck’s speed, direction, engine performance, and other information. A steady speed and lack of braking in the seconds before a collision can show the truck driver was distracted when the crash occurred.
- Cell phone records — Looking at the truck driver’s cell phone records may show they sent a text message or the driver was making a call right before the crash happened.
- Evidence from the scene of the crash — Forensic investigators can use information from the scene of a crash to help prove a driver was distracted. For instance, a lack of skid marks may show the driver did not apply the brakes before the crash happened or applied them too late to stop.
How Truckers Get Distracted on the Road
There are many ways a truck driver can get distracted on the road. Some of the most common distractions include:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Using navigation devices
- Looking at a video screen
- Listening to loud music
- Looking at an accident in another lane
What Is the Leading Cause of Distracted Driving?
Cell phone use appears to be one of the leading causes of distracted driving among all drivers, not only truckers.
Research from the National Safety Council indicates one or more drivers were using a cell phone in about 13 percent of all fatal crashes nationwide. To keep yourself and others safe on the road, put your cell phone away.
What Are the Statistics for Distracted Driving?
According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, there were 8,994 accidents statewide involving distracted drivers in a recent year, though the research does not include a breakdown of car drivers vs. truck drivers. These accidents led to 2,941 injuries overall, 107 serious injuries, and seven deaths.
Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving
Consider the following tips to prevent distracted driving on South Carolina roads:
- Only use your cell phone in emergency situations, and make sure it’s safe before you do so
- Try to limit the number of passengers in your vehicle at any time, as well as how loud they are
- Avoid eating while driving
- If you’re using a navigation device, set your destination before you leave
Contact a Distracted Driving Attorney Today!
If you have been injured in a truck accident involving a distracted driver, we can help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries. Contact the Joye Law Firm today at 888-324-3100 to speak to a South Carolina truck accident lawyer.