Distraction and truck drivers in Texas can be a deadly combination
With so many interstates and highways crisscrossing through Harris County, it is not uncommon for drivers to have close encounters with tractor-trailers. In some instances, truck accidents even occur and these can be devastating for the occupants of the passenger vehicles involved.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that 66 percent of the people killed in accidents involving semis in 2011 were people in cars and SUVs. This should not be a surprise, given the difference in sizes between the two types of vehicles. The Texas Department of Transportation reports that in the same year, there were over 58,000 serious injuries and over 3,000 fatalities. It is unknown how many of these accidents involved truckers.
Fatal truck accidents involving distraction
In North Texas, a couple on a motorcycle was killed after a tractor-trailer hit them head-on. According to Channel 3000, the trucker was heading in the opposite direction when he reached down for a candy bar. The tractor-trailer crossed the center line and collided with the motorcycle. Officials announced that they will charge the driver with criminally negligent homicide.
More recently, distracted driving was cited as the cause in a fatal accident that occurred in Arizona. The Huffington Post reported that a law enforcement officer died after his vehicle was hit by a tractor-trailer. The driver of the semi was allegedly looking at websites on his phone with his semi in cruise control. He apparently did not see the officer’s vehicle along with two other police cars and two fire trucks, in front of him, and plowed into the mass of vehicles at 65 miles per hour.
Distraction a concern
In 2009, a report was issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that looked at distraction in commercial drivers, including truckers. The report was based on an in-depth look at studies which had been previously conducted on the subject. After examining all of the data from these studies, the FMCSA report made the following recommendations.
- The use of maps in any form should be prohibited while the vehicle is in motion.
- Fleet safety managers should increase their education of drivers on the risks associated with distraction.
- Instrument panel and other in-vehicle device designs should be redesigned to decrease the amount of time a driver has to look away from the road.
- Policies should be developed by companies that focus on decreasing driver distraction.
- Manual cell phone use should be prohibited.
In 2010, the FMCSA issued a national ban on texting and driving for commercial drivers, according to distraction.gov. That ban was expanded in 2011 to include hand-held cell phones. Yet, despite these bans, there is evidence, as shown in the Arizona fatal truck accident, that commercial drivers are still engaging in behavior that is distractive.
Victims of these kinds of accidents and their families often struggle financially, emotionally and physically. They should speak with an experienced attorney who can help them seek appropriate financial compensation.