Truckers Texting While Driving
Texting and driving in the U.S. is considered one of the leading causes of distracted driving accidents. Because truck drivers are generally driving for many hours each day with few breaks, the temptation to text while driving is great. Because of the serious implications of having distracted commercial vehicle operators on our roads, the federal government has enacted regulations that specifically focus on this threat to public safety.Federal Regulations on Texting While Operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted regulations that prohibit drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) from texting and driving. Pursuant to these regulations, commercial truckers are not only violating the law if they text while driving, but also if they even reach for a cell phone to read a text, look at incoming messages, or use more than one button when dialing. These rules also encompass any communication through instant messaging, email, or web pages, or any other application that would require the operator of the CMV to type anything to a phone. A violation of these rules could lead to both the driver and the company he/she works for being susceptible to substantial fines and liability for damages caused in an accident.
It has been estimated by the FMCSA that CMV drivers who choose to text and drive are 23 times more likely to end up in a dangerous or even life-threatening encounter with other motorists and are 10 times more likely to cause an accident. Texting, looking at texts, etc. have caused tens of thousands of crashes, near-misses, and evasive maneuvers by other motorists. The statistics are even more grim when the truck driver is speeding while also distracted. It is the goal of FMCSA by enacting these regulations to prevent truck drivers from being unnecessarily distracted while driving.Requirements for Compliance and Penalties for Non-Compliance
To comply with the most recent federal regulation, a driver must:
- Put any cell phone somewhere where it cannot be easily accessed;
- Wear an earpiece or have a vehicle system so that a driver would not need to actually pick up a device;
- Install a voice-activated system or one-touch features that can start or stop a phone call.
The fine for violating one of these federal regulations can be anywhere up to $2,750 for the driver and $11,000 for the company that employed the driver. Multiple violations can lead to a driver being convicted along with losing his/her FMCSA qualification. Another consequence of violating these state laws could be the driver losing his/her commercial driver’s license (CDL) for a period upwards of 120 days.Proving a Truck Driver was Texting or Otherwise Distracted
It should come as no surprise that truck drivers who are in an accident rarely admit they were texting, looking at the phone, etc. As a result, our investigations of truck accidents include sending what is called a “preservation notice” to both the truck driver and his/her employer. A preservation notice imposes a legal obligation on the truck driver and his employer to immediately retain all data related to the accident including any data on the trucker’s cell phone. Ignoring this notice can result in a court holding the truck driver in contempt or imposing substantial penalties on both the truck and his employer. A preservation notice also requires that the physical equipment itself (e.g., the phone, headset, etc.) be preserved so it can be inspected to determine whether it was in compliance with federal regulations.Peter Thompson & Associates Gets Justice for Truck Accident Victims
If you or a loved one has been involved in a trucking accident in New Hampshire and were seriously injured, contact Peter Thompson & Associates today. Our firm will immediately begin an investigation, send preservation notices, and retain any necessary consultants to assist in our investigation. Call us today at 800.804.2004 or fill out the “Contact Us” form on this page.