In spite of the dangers, distracted driving is a common occurrence. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that distracted driving was responsible for 3,142 fatal crashes last year, accounting for more than 8.5% of all traffic deaths in the United States.
When distracted drivers are operating large trucks, the dangers are heightened. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that sending a text message or manually dialing a cell phone takes about four seconds. Trucks traveling at 55 mph can cover considerable ground in just four seconds. It takes no time for a truck to cause a catastrophic crash.
Trucking Regulations: Distracted Driving
Growing concerns about the dangers of cellphone use while driving have led to the adoption of federal and state laws restricting drivers from using their mobile devices behind the wheel. Aware of the hazards posed by distracted truck drivers, these entities regulate their use:
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): According to FMCSA regulations, interstate truck drivers cannot read or send texts, browse the internet, dial, email, or engage in any other form of electronic activity while driving.
- Texas state trucking laws: To discourage distracted driving, Texas has enacted laws similar to those in most states. These laws pertain to cell phone use while driving. Although Texas does not have a specific law regarding distracted driving, it does have a cell phone ordinance. The state ordinance prohibits drivers from using wireless communication devices as a means of communicating while operating a motor vehicle. The state of Texas prohibits the sending and receiving of texts while driving. Those with learner’s permits under the age of 18 are not allowed to use their cell phones on the road.
As an alternative to using a handheld phone, Texas law allows drivers to make calls with hands-free technology. Although this minimizes distracting factors, it does not eliminate them fully.
Other Forms of Distraction That Affect Texas Truckers
Any activity that keeps a driver from concentrating solely on the task at hand is considered a distraction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identifies three types of distracted driving: eyes away from the road (visual distraction), hands off the wheel (manual distraction), and mind not attentive to driving (cognitive distraction).
Texting while operating a truck is especially dangerous because it consumes a driver’s visual, manual, and cognitive attention. However, phone distractions are not the only thing that can contribute to collisions. Various activities can cause distractions of such a nature, including:
- Eating or drinking
- Sightseeing landmarks
- Gazing at billboards, advertisements, or other road users
- Changing a song or radio station
- Looking around at vehicle occupants, such as children or pets
- Reaching for an item
- Using a GPS
- Fatigue or drowsiness
Proving a Distracted Truck Driver Caused Your Accident
Data from the truck’s event data recorder (EDR), also known as the “black box,” provides insight into several factors that may have contributed to a truck crash, including a truck’s speed, acceleration, and brake effectiveness. Steering trajectory is also recorded by these devices; it shows the direction, angle, and control of a truck. These can be used to determine whether a truck driver tried to avoid a wreck or steered directly into it.
A Texas truck accident attorney needs to act swiftly to secure the evidence from the above sources. Unfortunately, evidence fades with time. Legal assistance should not be delayed, as damage needs to be investigated thoroughly as soon as possible before it is discarded. Also, a crashed truck that was being operated by a negligent truck driver may have its EDR data wiped out.
Our goal at the Amaro Law Firm is to start helping clients right away by investigating the crash, handling communications, and protecting their rights. Aside from EDR data, we will help obtain and preserve the following evidence:
- Truck damage
- Cell phone records
- Communication records between dispatch and the trucker
- In-cab fleet surveillance
- Timesheets or Hours of Service (HOS) records
During our investigation, we would review the police report, interview eyewitnesses, obtain expert testimony, and review surveillance footage near the accident. We often work with certified accident reconstruction experts to analyze evidence and determine causation, which is then used to develop a comprehensive report of what happened during the crash.
Frequently Acquired Injuries Associated with Distracted Driving
Accidents involving trucks often result in serious injuries and may result in fatalities. The average passenger car weighs around 4,000 pounds, making it no match for a truck that can weigh over 30,000 pounds.
Distracted driving truck accidents in Texas can result in injuries such as:
- Brain or neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Burns and lacerations
- Soft tissue damage
- Internal bleeding
Contact a Texas Distracted Truck Driver Accident Attorney
Beyond their physical effects, life-threatening injuries also carry a psychological burden. Such injuries are often accompanied by post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression and require extensive treatment and therapy. Dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident is tough enough without having to deal with an insurance company. With the team of Amaro Texas truck accident lawyers on your side, you can trust that your best interests are being looked out for while you recover. Call us now at (713) 352-7975, or fill out the free consultation form located on this page.