Are Stricter Penalties Needed to Keep Truck Drivers Focused on the Road? A Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyer Weighs In.

An investigation by an ABC news station in New York over a three-week period found that truck drivers on some of New York’s busiest highways are texting or talking on their cell phones while driving.

The investigative reporter said that the hidden camera investigation caught “truck drivers routinely, illegally and dangerously texting and talking on phones.” One camera caught a truck driver and his co-workers, all in the front seat, with all with eyes, including the drivers, focused on a cell phone. On another highway, a truck driver was filmed using two phones simultaneously while driving.

According to Eyewitness News 7 in New York, the Department of Transportation says that last year nearly 16,000 truckers were ticketed for using their cell phone, but only 4 of those were suspended and taken out of service. Eyewitness news referred to this as an epidemic and deadly problem. The investigation uncovered truckers dialing, talking and texting at an alarming rate on every highway they checked.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published rules that restrict texting and the use of hand-held mobile phones by truck and bus drivers while operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Research commissioned by the FMCSA found there were 23 times greater risk for CMV drivers who text while driving to be involved in an accident.

Distracted driving is an extremely serious and growing problem that kills and injures thousands every year. The annual State Farm Distracted Driving Survey found that cell phone use and texting while driving remains a serious concern on the nation’s highways, with a large increase in drivers admitting to that and other distracting behavior, including accessing the internet while driving.

According to the US Department of Transportation FMCSA 2012 FARS Data on Large Truck and Bus Fatal Crashes, Pennsylvania had the 4th highest fatality rate for large truck and bus accidents, with a total of 177 fatalities in 2012. Texas had the highest number of fatalities with 589, followed by California and Florida.

Of the driver related crash factors for drivers of large trucks with occupant fatalities in 2012, 12% were due to driver distraction. The US Department of Transportation Commercial Motor Vehicle Facts document, released in March 2013, reported that in 2012 there was a total of 5,700,000 CMV drivers operating in the United States.

Talking on a cell phone, texting, computer use, eating, and other distractions can all create a dangerous situation for any driver, and when the driver is behind the wheel of a fully loaded truck, the consequences can be deadly.

If you have been injured in a truck accident, Dan Munley and the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law can help. Visit www.munley.com for more information.

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