Most people understand that distraction is dangerous to themselves and others when they drive motor vehicles. Choosing to read a new text message, type a response, take a photo or scroll through social media while driving can easily result in a crash.
After all, your eyes and your mind are focused on something other than the potentially fatal task at hand. When people fail to take the risks of driving seriously, everyone on the road experiences increased risk.
Commercial trucks create additional risk on the road
When that distracted driver is someone in charge of a commercial truck, the dangers to other people on the road increase even more. Commercial trucks already have dangerously large blind spots. They make wide turns and take much longer to come to a stop when compared with passenger vehicles.
When you add distraction to that mix, you have the recipe for a severe, potentially life-altering crash. Those who end up suffering injuries caused by a distracted commercial driver may have to make extra effort to stand up for their rights.
Commercial vehicles can cause massive property damage and injury claims
Due to their size, weight and performance limitations, commercial trucks pose more of a threat to passenger vehicles than other passenger vehicles. The more significant the discrepancy in size, weight and momentum between the vehicles involved in a collision, the greater the risk of severe damage to the smaller vehicle.
In fact, when commercial trucks cause collisions with smaller vehicles, the people in the other vehicle are much more likely to suffer injuries or potentially die in the crash than the driver in the commercial truck. Approximately 97 percent of commercial truck-related fatalities involve the people in the smaller vehicle, not a commercial driver. That uneven degree of risk is part of the reason why commercial drivers have to adhere to stricter laws and regulations.
Federal law prohibits commercial drivers from texting
Curtailing the risk commercial vehicles pose to the general public isn't easy. Despite requiring special classwork, creating stricter blood alcohol content limits and even limiting the number of hours a commercial driver can drive, crashes between passenger vehicles and massive trucks still happen every day across the United States and right here in Iowa.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created rules that prohibit commercial drivers from texting or otherwise using a mobile phone behind the wheel. The ban extends to reading or composing SMS messages, emails, instant messages and more. Typing or manually opening apps on your phone, navigating to a website or pressing more than one button to start or end a call are all also illegal uses of smartphones for commercial drivers.
While there are also state laws which govern the use of mobile devices while driving, truck drivers this federal regulation applies to must comply with it regardless of what state they are in. Commercial drivers who cause crashes due to distraction, such as cellphone use, may be liable for property damage or injuries they cause. They may also incur fines or even lose their license to drive.