With the number of devices and other things that ask for our attention constantly growing, the problem of distracted driving never seems to go away. Many drivers are guilty of at least occasionally not paying attention while behind the wheel, which can lead a tragedy no matter what type of vehicle is being driven. However, when a commercial truck driver fails to pay attention to the road and causes an accident, the consequences can be completely devastating for everyone involved.
How Truck Drivers Get Distracted
Driving a tractor-trailer for a living is a demanding job, and it involves a lot more than just sitting in the driver’s seat for a few hours a day. Truck drivers have many things that compete for their attention while on the road, all while piloting a vehicle that can approach 80,000 pounds or more when fully loaded with freight. Some of the most common distractions that truck drivers face on a regular basis can include:
- Operating a GPS. Truck drivers often have complex routes to manage and may be tempted to operate a navigation system while in motion, which is never a safe thing to do.
- Texting while driving. The temptation to send or receive texts is strong for many drivers, especially since smartphones became popular. Texting and driving is illegal in most states for everyone, and truck drivers are specifically forbidden to do so by federal law, too. That includes sending or receiving texts, dialing numbers, or even reaching for a phone—all phone operations must be hands-free.
- Talking on the phone or radio. Truck drivers are often in regular communication with dispatch centers, customers, and other drivers via cell phone or by radio, but when it takes attention from driving, the risk of an accident is greatly increased.
- Eating and drinking. Long hours behind the wheel and tight deadlines mean many are tempted to eat meals while driving. Drivers may take one hand from the wheel, or even attempt to steer a 40-ton truck at highway speeds with nothing but a knee while doing so.
- Reading or writing. Truck drivers often have a significant amount of paperwork to deal with, and the temptation to read over documents or even write or sign things while driving can be strong.
There are countless other distractions that can occur while a truck driver is behind the wheel, such as talking to a passenger, using a map, adjusting mirrors or other hardware, or digging through personal belongings.
Bear in mind that, again, a semi-truck can weigh in at 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle weighs in around 3,500 pounds. When that truck driver’s attention wanders and strikes that passenger vehicle at any speed, the sheer mismatch of force can cause extreme injuries or death in the blink of an eye.
Proving a Distracted Driving Case
There are a few ways that victims can try to prove that a truck driver was driving while distracted after an accident. The best place to gather evidence is often at the scene. It can be hard to think straight after a serious accident, but if you can, try and take photos of the scene. A cell phone sitting by the truck driver’s seat can be a big giveaway that he or she was holding and possibly operating an electronic device in a manner that is forbidden by law. An open container of takeout food may also be a sign that the truck driver was distracted by eating.
In some cases, negligent drivers may admit to the police that he or she wasn’t fully focused on the road, as well, or there may be a witness who saw the driver not minding the road in the moments before the crash. Sometimes there may even be video from traffic cameras or a nearby business with outdoor cameras that capture the crash, including the driver’s actions. Cell phone records may also be requested by your attorney, which can show that the phone was being operated at the time of the crash—a very frequent source of distraction. Expert witnesses may also be called upon to provide the necessary expertise to show that the accident would not have happened if the truck driver wasn’t distracted.
Get Legal Help After an Accident With a Semi-Truck
An accident between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle or pedestrian can be life-changing for the victims, and if you have been hurt in this way, you have the deepest sympathies of everyone at the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger. We are here to help you get justice from these negligent drivers and recover financially from your accident, and we would like to hear from you today. Reach out to us by telephone, send us an email through our online contact form, or click the live chat box on this page any time, and arrange a free consultation with one of our experienced legal professionals to find out more about your legal options.