Everyone loves their cell phones. We all like to be instantly connected with our friends and family, even when we’re on the road. Driving takes concentration, and using your phone to text can be hazardous. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
That’s especially dangerous if you’re driving an 80,000-pound big rig on the open highway. Because the risk of accidents is so great when truck drivers attempt to text and drive, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) now prohibits the use of any handheld electronic device in any commercial vehicle over 10,000 pounds. These regulations can result in steep fines and suspension of a driver’s commercial license.
Why Is Texting So Dangerous?
Unlike talking on the phone, which only involves speaking, texting requires a complicated interaction between the eyes, hands, and parts of the brain involved in spatial orientation.
- Visual distraction. Driving, especially driving a vehicle more than ten feet off the ground with blind spots two lanes wide, requires constant visual checks. Anything that takes the trucker’s eyes off the road, even for a second, reduces their reaction time if something happens in front of you.
- Manual distraction. In driver’s education class, they teach that you must keep both hands on the wheel. When texting, a truck driver needs one hand to hold the phone, one hand to type, and with their other hands, they can still steer. Wait, that isn’t going to work, is it?
- Mental distraction. The brain tends to coordinate the actions of the eyes and hands. That is, the eyes and hands want to move together. When a truck driver looks down and to one side, their hands tend to follow them, and it is very difficult to force their brain to steer in the other direction. At high speed on the highway while driving a commercial truck, drifting to one side as they text can be fatal.
- Slowed reaction time. All these distractions combine to slow the trucker’s ability to react. Even if they could text with one hand and see with one eye, their brain must pay attention to the text they are reading. This slows their ability to react fast enough in an emergency. If they’re texting, they may not notice a smaller vehicle suddenly drop in front of their big rig, and they won’t hit their brakes in time.
For all these reasons, nearly every state has enacted stiff penalties for texting while driving, and truckers can lose their Class-C licenses for causing accidents while texting.
What to Do If Your Accident Was Caused by Texting
It is hard to know if the person who caused your accident may have been texting. If the truck driver was on their phone, you wouldn’t be able to see what they’re doing from the road. However, the NHTSA has noted that texting and driving can resemble driving drunk. When collecting information about the accident, you should look for evidence that the driver was:
- Weaving or swerving
- Braking suddenly or accelerating
- Ignoring traffic signals or road signs
- Driving onto the median or shoulder
If the driver displayed these conditions before the accident but was not determined to be drunk or under the influence at the scene of the accident, then another distraction, such as texting, could be the cause of the accident.
How We Can Help
If you have been involved in an accident with a big rig that wasn’t your fault, you should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss possible legal action. The issues with commercial vehicle insurance can be complicated, and obtaining records that might prove the driver was texting, talking on their phone, or otherwise distracted might require legal assistance, even if you don’t intend to pursue a lawsuit.
At Veron Bice, LLC, we can help you access the driver’s log and other information you will need to file your insurance claim with the proper entities to get the compensation you deserve. If there are any questions that other companies may be at fault for the crash, such as the employer or owner of the company, we can help you with getting those records and filing claims in a timely manner.
In Louisiana, you have only one year after an accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. You should consult an attorney as soon as possible. Call the Lake Charles truck accident attorneys of Veron Bice, LLC at 337-310-1600 right away for a free consultation about your case. We can help you determine the best course of action and get your claim started before time runs out.