Distractions can be dangerous for any driver, but when the driver in question is behind the wheel of an up-to-80,000-pound large truck or bus, the consequences of distracted driving can be even more devastating than normal. Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes involving large trucks, according to a 2009 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study, which found that 71 percent of large-truck crashes occurred while the driver was focused on something other than the task of safely piloting their vehicle.
Sadly, it's the drivers and passengers in the involved passenger vehicles who bear the brunt of the injuries and property damages sustained in distracted driving truck crashes. Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that only 27 percent of people killed in large-truck accidents were truck occupants.
If you were seriously hurt in a truck accident caused by a distracted commercial driver, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries and other losses. Here's what you need to know about pursuing a distracted driving truck accident claim.
Common Truck Driver Distractions
The more time a truck driver spends on the road, the easier it is for them to become distracted. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three main types of driver distractions:
- Visual distractions that cause drivers to take their eyes off the road
- Manual distractions that cause drivers to take one or both hands off the wheel
- Cognitive distractions that divert drivers' mental focus away from driving
Common distracted driving behaviors exhibited by commercial truck drivers include:
- Talking, texting, or surfing the Internet on their phone
- Adjusting the radio
- Using a dispatch device
- Eating or drinking
Truck drivers may also become distracted by things outside the vehicle, such as billboards or traffic accidents.
To reduce the number of large-truck accidents caused by distracted commercial drivers, the FMCSA implemented regulations banning truckers from using handheld mobile phone devices while operating their vehicles. The regulations specifically prohibit truck drivers from talking, texting, or even holding a cell phone while driving. Commercial truck drivers who violate these regulations may face serious sanctions, including fines of up to $2,750 or removal from service. Motor carriers who require or encourage their drivers to use handheld mobile phones behind the wheel can face fines of up to $11,000.
Additionally, the FMCSA recommends that truck drivers:
- Avoid becoming distracted by things outside the vehicle
- Avoid using a dispatch device while driving
- Refrain from reading, writing, or using paper maps while driving
- Avoid eating and drinking while driving
Injuries Associated With Distracted Driving Truck Crashes
When a commercial driver is distracted, they may not realize that they're about to cause a collision until it's too late to take evasive action. High-speed, direct collisions can lead to a wide range of injuries for those involved, including:
- Lacerations and contusions
- Broken or crushed bones
- Head and brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
- Wrongful death
Compensation Available in Truck Accident Cases
The damages sustained in a distracted driving truck accident can be significant. These damages tend to fall into one of two main categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. As the name suggests, economic damages compensate victims for quantifiable financial losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, or loss of earning potential. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are much more subjective as they have no direct monetary value. Examples of economic damages include physical pain and suffering, psychological anguish, scarring or disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.
Consult an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
If you were hurt in an accident caused by a distracted trucker, the knowledgeable truck accident attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you understand your rights and explore your options for compensation. Contact the Morris James Personal Injury Group today to schedule an appointment for a free initial review of your truck accident case.