Distracted driving has become a hot-button issue across the United States, with even the federal government getting involved. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called distracted driving a “menace to society”, and has pledged to crack down on drivers who don’t pay attention when they’re behind the wheel.
While many people might think of car, minivan or SUV drivers as the ones most likely to be driving with cell phones, fiddling with GPS systems, sending text messages and engaging in other assorted distracted driving behaviors, they are not alone. The pending federal crackdown will also focus on bus, truck and train drivers.
There is a bill in Congress that would cut federal highway money by 25 percent for states that do not implement a texting while driving ban. In addition, there is talk of a federal ban texting while driving for interstate bus and truck drivers, which would include banning the use of computer systems found aboard many large trucks while driving.
These computer systems allow trucking companies to keep in touch with drivers, and can be used to send messages, orders or directions to truck drivers on the road. The drivers can in turn report their hours and status back to the company. However, the danger is that these systems can also be used for personal use, and truck drivers are known to use them to send email and surf the web.
Despite the fact that some trucking companies have policies in place that required drivers to pull over or be stopped when they use their onboard computer, this does not always happen. In addition, there are plenty of companies with no official policy, which means that truckers are free to use these computers while driving with little fear of reprisal.
All of this sounds frightening to people outside of the trucking industry, as the prospect of a vehicle weighing several thousand tons barreling down the road at highway speeds while the driver surfs the internet is incredibly disturbing. The trucking industry, however, doesn’t think that this is a problem.
In fact, the American Trucking Association has called talk of a ban on the use of truck computers while driving “overkill”. The industry has stated that the onboard truck computers are safe and don’t pose a risk to other motorists, however there is research that calls this assertion into question.
Research has shown that truck drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a traffic crash, and truck drivers who use their onboard computer while driving are 10 times more likely to have an accident. If the trucking industry isn’t willing to stand behind restrictions on the use of text message devices or onboard computers, one has to wonder if they are favoring profits over safety.
If you have been involved in a serious tractor trailer accident in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to get help from a qualified attorney. Trucking companies, their insurance adjusters and their attorneys are notorious for playing games with injured motorists to avoid big accident payouts. Protect your rights and secure fair compensation by finding an experienced large truck accident attorney to review your case.
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