Truck driver distraction is a leading cause of accidents. And there is perhaps no greater source of distraction than cell phones. Smartphone technology promises to keep us linked to our loved ones at all hours of the day—an attractive proposition for truckers who spend days out on the lonely road. But cell phones are a prime visual distraction and can require both hands to use.
Why is driving while texting so dangerous? And what can you do if a trucker slams into you while on the phone?
The Federal Government Limits Cell Phone Use
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) adopted a rule that restricts using hand-held mobile devices. In short, this rule prohibits holding a mobile phone or using any device requiring more than one button to make a call while driving a commercial vehicle.
This rule prohibits hand-held cell phones and smartphones. The agency said it was motivated by research showing critical safety events increased six-fold when drivers dialed a mobile phone. A driver typically took their eyes off the road for nearly six seconds to make a call, during which time they would travel hundreds of yards.
Violations carry severe penalties. One violation can result in a $2,750 fine for the driver and a maximum $11,000 fine for any employer who allows the use of hand-held devices. Multiple violations can result in driver disqualification.
“Hands-Free” Devices Are Not Risk-Free
The FMCSA does allow hands-free devices which are mounted close to the driver. So long as the driver doesn’t have to reach too far to make a call, then it is okay.
As experienced Houston truck accident lawyers, we think a hands-free device is also risky. Other research not cited by the FMCSA shows that motorists can remain cognitively distracted for nearly half a minute after finishing a phone call or text message.
Imagine a trucker who gets into an argument with his wife over the phone. Isn’t it normal to assume he will remain focused on the conversation—and not on the other motorists sharing the road? Because cognitive distractions are very real, we wish the FMCSA did not allow any cell phone use while driving.
Building a Case for Trucker Distraction
If you were struck by a driver, we can search for evidence the driver was on the phone. Either the company should have the driver’s cell phone data, or we might subpoena it from the cell phone provider. This evidence can show if the driver was on the phone seconds before a collision.
Remember: a driver can still be distracted even if he complies with the federal rule, which means he can still be liable for a collision even if he wasn’t using a hand-held device. Violating a rule is strong proof a driver was negligent. But complying with a rule doesn’t necessarily mean a driver used sufficient care. In fact, we are prepared to argue that using a hands-free device possibly contributed to your wreck.
Contact Husain Law Today
You can schedule a free consultation with a Houston truck driver attorney by calling or sending us a message. We will review the facts and help you analyze whether you can prove a trucker was negligent.