Awareness of the dangers of distracted driving has never been higher. National television advertising campaigns and increasingly strict laws have more drivers than ever before aware of the potential dangers of texting behind the wheel. This practice not just dangerous — it is sadly quite common as well. It is worrying enough when people in passenger vehicles text instead of focusing on the road. When commercial drivers in massive trucks text, however, they put everyone at even greater risk.
The massive size discrepancy between commercial and passenger vehicles puts those in the smaller vehicles at high risk of injury or death in the event of a crash. It only takes a few seconds of distraction for commercial drivers to cause collisions that can end in tragedy. That's one reason why distracted commercial driving is against the law.
The nature of commercial driving lends itself to distraction
The truth is that driving trucks commercially is by no means an easy job. There are long hours and strict deadlines. Drivers must maintain perfect control over large and unwieldy tractor-trailers. They often drive in inclement weather and during the nighttime hours.
These professionals may find themselves feeling lonely or suffering from road hypnosis brought on by the monotony of highway driving. Communicating with loved ones at home can help stave off exhaustion and social isolation. However, texting and dialing phone numbers when driving a commercial truck is absolutely against the law.
Federal law prohibits texting by commercial drivers
In order to reduce the danger that commercial vehicles create for the general public, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) creates and enforces rules to promote public safety. Their Hours of Service rules, for example, reduce trucker exhaustion by limiting the number of hours commercial truckers can drive.
The FMCSA created a texting ban with the same intention. After reviewing research that indicates that texting while driving makes drivers over 23 times more likely to crash, the FMCSA created rules against any kind of texting while operating a commercial vehicle.
They intentionally broadened the definition of texting. For most people, this term refers to short message service (SMS) messages sent between mobile phones. The FMCSA's rules also refer to e-mails, instant messages, web navigation and phone calls that require pushing more than one button. Any form of electronic data entry or retrieval is effectively illegal.
Truck drivers who endanger others must be held accountable
Those who suffer injuries caused by a distracted truck driver have the right to explore their options for compensation. There are insurance claims, as well as civil lawsuits to consider. Other drivers shouldn't end up saddled with medical bills and lost wages because of poor decisions made by distracted commercial drivers.