Cell Phone Use and Commercial Truck Drivers

Commercial Truck AccidentHelping Truck Accident Victims in Houston, TX

Using a hand-held cell phone while driving is not only dangerous, it is actually against the law. Commercial drivers who operate large trucks and buses are prohibited from all hand-held cell phone use under federal trucking regulations. Truck drivers are held to higher standards and stricter regulations when it comes to operating their vehicles because of their sheer size and weight and the potential hazard they pose to everyone on the road.

Were you injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler, big rig, tanker truck, or another large commercial vehicle? If you believe that cell phone use or a similar type of driver negligence was involved, a Houston attorney at Stern Law Group may be able to help you in your pursuit of justice and fair compensation.

Because every case is different, we will need to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident to determine whether texting was the cause and how to prove this in negotiations or courtroom litigation.

At Stern Law Group, we represent the injured – fighting tirelessly for the monetary damages that will help them rebuild their lives in the wake of serious accidents. Call our lawyers today to discuss your rights and legal options with the truck accident case.

The Dangers of Cellphone Use While Driving Large Trucks

The vehicles commercial drivers operate are large and heavy, weighing up to 80,000 pounds or even more with special permits. They are difficult to maneuver even when a properly trained and experienced driver is paying full attention to the task at hand. When you consider that texting takes away visual attention (eyes off the road), manual attention (one or both hands off the wheel) and cognitive attention (mental awareness off driving), it is plain to see why a truck driver's ability to safely operate a vehicle will be significantly compromised.

According to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) study, texting takes a driver's visual attention from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. If a big rig is traveling 55 miles per hour and a driver takes these 4.6 seconds to check or compose a text message, the vehicle may travel the entire length of a football field without the driver seeing the road in front of him/her. This paints a frighteningly real picture of the true danger posed by texting while driving.

According to another VTTI study, a driver who texts while driving is about 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident than a driver who is not distracted.

If a truck driver texts while driving, he or she may:

  • Unintentionally veer from his or her lane;
  • Fail to see a traffic light that has changed from green to yellow or yellow to red;
  • Not see that a vehicle has changed lanes in front of the truck;
  • Fail to see a child or pedestrian who has legally stepped out into a crosswalk;
  • Not see that traffic has slowed or stopped ahead, until it is too late to stop in time; or
  • Fail to notice a stop sign or other traffic sign, such as notice of a sharp turn.

Those are just a few examples of the potential consequences of a trucker who texts while driving. There are countless other scenarios that may cause serious collisions, leaving others with catastrophic injuries.

FMCSA Regulations on Trucker Cell Phone Use

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has prohibited all hand-held cell phone use for commercial truck and bus drivers in the United States. This rule was implemented in November 2011, shortly after the FMCSA banned texting while driving among commercial drivers. According to FMCSA research, these regulations were certainly warranted, given the danger posed by commercial driver cell phone use.

For example, FMCSA research showed that:

  • Reaching for a cell phone may increase a commercial driver's chances of an accident by three times.
  • Dialing a hand-held cell phone may increase a commercial driver's chances of a collision by six times.

Violations of FMCSA cell phone regulations may result in harsh penalties. Drivers who text or use hand-held cell phones while driving may face civil fines of up to $2,750 per offense and may be disqualified from driving commercial vehicles for multiple offenses. Motor carriers who require or permit their drivers to text or use hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel may face civil fines of up to $11,000 per offense.

Pursuing Justice In Civil Court

Truck drivers and trucking companies who violate federal trucking regulations and cause serious collisions may also be brought to justice by the victims of these accidents. Those injured by truck drivers who were using cell phones while driving may be able to pursue financial compensation through civil court proceedings, such as a personal injury lawsuit. These lawsuits can give victims and their families the opportunity to not only hold these at-fault parties accountable for their conduct but can help them recover money for medical bills, property damage, lost earnings and other unforeseen expenses or losses they have experienced.

Our legal team is committed to holding truck drivers and motor carriers responsible for violations of trucking regulations and all types of negligence or wrongdoing. By involving investigators, professionals in accident reconstruction, medicine, economics and other pertinent fields, we can work to evaluate the cause of our clients' accidents and then pursue financial compensation that will help them start to rebuild their lives.

Call a Houston Lawyer Today

If you are interested in finding out what can be done to hold a negligent truck driver accountable for using a hand-held cell phone while driving, call a Houston attorney at our firm. Our legal team has more than 150 years of combined legal experience and uses our considerable knowledge and resources to help our clients face off against large trucking companies and insurance providers as we pursue fair and complete compensation on their behalf.

Contact Stern Law Group today to get started. We are here to help and support you.