Distracted driving is a serious problem that can lead to fatal accidents and in fact, these types of drivers are over twenty times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who are not distracted. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to the dangers of distracted driving. They are more likely to text and drive than older drivers and have less experience behind the wheel. Distracted driving, has become so problematic, the U.S. government has created a website devoted entirely to the subject, distraction.gov.
In 2020, there were over 3,100 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. That’s an average of one person every 8 hours. Additionally, in 2019, distracted driving was a factor in 26% of all fatal crashes on US roadways.
Distracted driving is characterized as driving while allowing one’s attention to be distracted from the task at hand—driving safely. It can be broken down into three primary categories:
• Distractions that are visual in nature and that engage the driver’s vision
• Distractions that are manual in nature and that engage the driver’s hands
• Distractions that are cognitive in nature and that engage the driver’s thought processes
Any type of distraction can increase your risk of crashing. However, visual and manual distractions are the most dangerous. When you take your eyes off the road for even a brief moment, you’re not paying attention to what’s happening around you. This can lead to a crash, even at low speeds.
Texting while driving is especially dangerous. If you’re going to drive, put your phone away. It’s not worth risking your life or the lives of others.
There are a number of things you can do to avoid distracted driving:
• Pull over to the side of the road if you need to use your phone.
• Don’t eat, drink, or adjust the radio while you’re driving.
• Make sure your passengers know not to disturb you while you’re driving.
• Pay attention to the road and be aware of your surroundings.
Distracted Truck Drivers
Distracted driving does not just apply to automobile drivers. The dangers associated with truckers that text are so significant that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits commercial truck drivers from texting while driving. Further, the FMCSA qualifies what constitutes texting, which involves manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device. This includes, but is not limited to, short message services, e-mailing, instant messaging. . . or pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication using a mobile phone. In other words, the FMCSA prohibits truckers from engaging with their smartphones in nearly any way other than that of pressing a single button. The federal government takes the dangers presented by distracted truckers very seriously.
Truckers can be fined up to $2,750 for a texting infraction and can also be divested of their professional driving qualifications. The FMCSA bases this texting ban on research that suggests truckers who text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a collision (or safety-critical event). Further, the research highlights the fact that drivers’ eyes leave the road for an average of 4.6 seconds when they text, which translates to about 360 feet of driving blind. Because large semis typically carry extremely heavy loads, their stopping-distance requirements are far greater than those of noncommercial vehicles, which exacerbates the potential dangers of trucking while distracted.
Additional Distractions For Truckers
While texting is the most common distraction for truckers, there are other trucker distractions that contribute to the risk of being involved in an accident (in order of risk after texting):
• Engaging in a complex task (such as cleaning a side mirror)
• Engaging with a dispatch device
• Logging information by writing on a pad or notebook
• Using a calculator
• Reading a map or paperwork
• Dialing a cell phone
Most of these distractions are part and parcel of a trucker’s job, but these tasks are meant to be completed when the trucker isn’t behind the wheel. The trucking industry, however, is fast paced, and many truckers are pushed beyond their scheduling limitations, which can lead to multitasking and distracted driving. Here is an example of a recent incident that resulted in the tragic death of a father who was stopped at a red light and was hit by a distracted truck driver:
Why Distracted Truck Drivers Are So Dangerous
Truckers man massive vehicles that, when fully loaded, can hit 80,000 pounds. When such a behemoth crashes with a vehicle that’s many, many times smaller, there’s little hope of the incident being anything less than an utter catastrophe. These giants of the road are also a lot to handle—it can take immense skill to right a small miscalculation in driving, and when seconds of distraction are added to the equation, it can lead to disaster. If a trucker has to swerve to right an error or to avoid an accident, the action can result in a jackknifed or overturned rig, which represents some of the most extreme dangers on our roads.
If a Distracted Truck Driver Injured You, Contact Our Office Today to Consult with an Indianapolis Truck Accident Lawyer