As a Texan who spends a good part of your day on the road going to and from work, appointments, errands and taking your kids to and from their numerous activities, you know about distracted drivers. You see them all around you doing other things while driving their passenger vehicles or 18-wheelers.
The latter is a particularly wide-spread, dangerous and ongoing problem. Given that a tractor-trailer weighs nearly four times what a passenger vehicle weighs, if a crash occurs, you and your passengers are likely to suffer greater and more serious injuries than the commercial truck driver.
Types of distraction
As reported by TCI Business Capital, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration classifies distracted driving into the following three categories:
- Manual distraction: driving with hands off the steering wheel
- Visual distraction: driving with eyes on something other than the road, such as billboards, scenery, etc.
- Cognitive distraction: driving while thinking about something other than driving; i.e., not paying attention
When a trucker uses his or her cellphone or other hand-held device while driving, all three types of distraction are in play. Nevertheless, truckers have a long history of talking with others while driving. Witness the huge CB radio “breaker, breaker, good buddy” craze of the 1970s.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates over-the-road truck drivers and the companies for which they work. Under federal law, a commercial driver faces a fine of over $2,700 if (s)he uses a hand-held mobile device while driving. His or her employer faces civil fines of up to $11,000 if it requires their drivers to use any type of hand-held device while driving.
Should you have an accident with a semitruck caused by its distracted driver, you can sue him or her personally, as well as the company for which (s)he works, for your personal injuries and property damage. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.