Distracted Truck Driving
Truck drivers are bound by strict federal rules limiting distractions behind the wheel and for good reason. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the odds of being involved in a “safety-critical event,” such as a distracted driving accident or a near-crash, are 23.2 times greater for truckers who text while driving than those who don’t. For CMV drivers who dial and drive, the chances of such an event are six times higher.
If you were hurt in a collision caused by a distracted truck driver, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, property damage, and other losses. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you hold the driver and any other at-fault parties accountable for their recklessness.
Trollinger Law LLC pursues compensation and justice for injured people throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. Our law firm focuses exclusively on personal injury cases. When you work with us, you have the benefit of getting personalized attention from a lawyer with the knowledge, resources, and dedication needed to pursue the best possible outcome for your case.
Founding attorney Matt Trollinger believes that every client deserves one-on-one attention. Clients meet directly with Matt when they need to discuss their case. At our firm, you will never have to go through a case manager to get the answers and information you need.
Call or contact us today for a free consultation with a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
Operating any kind of motor vehicle requires a motorist’s full attention. Even a few seconds of distraction can cause a vehicle to dangerously swerve and cause an accident. Distracted drivers may also not be left with sufficient braking time and space to avoid a collision.
When commercial truck drivers are distracted behind the wheel, those dangers are heightened. The size and weight of commercial trucks, particularly when combined with highway speed, means that any collision will impart violent forces on other vehicles and the occupants involved. Truck accidents often leave their victims with serious and life-altering injuries.
Even brief distractions behind the wheel can leave motorists without enough time to avoid a collision when their attention finally comes back onto the road. This problem becomes even worse for large commercial trucks, which have much longer stopping distances. Large commercial trucks also do not maneuver as easily as passenger vehicles, so a distracted truck driver may end up causing jackknife collisions or rollovers that endanger numerous motorists in just a few seconds’ time.
Activities That Distract Truck Drivers
While truck drivers are subject to many of the same distractions as other motorists on the road, operating a commercial truck presents certain challenges and requirements that also create unique opportunities for distracting a truck driver. Examples of activities that can lead to distracted driving truck accident include:
- Using a cell phone, including texting, emailing, surfing the Internet, or using turn-by-turn navigation
- Using other electronic devices, such as a tablet or laptop computer
- Watching TV or movies
- Eating and drinking
- Lighting a cigarette or cigar
- Personal grooming, including combing hair
- Changing radio stations or adjusting climate controls
- Listening to the radio
- Reading books, magazines, or newspapers
- Filling out paperwork
- Changing settings on a CB radio
- Reaching for objects in the cab
- “Rubbernecking” at other accidents
- Reading signs or billboards
Since many truck drivers spend hours on the road at a time, it can prove difficult to prevent their minds from wandering due to the various types of distracting activities available in modern vehicles.
How Do You Recognize a Distracted Driver?
Like other motorists, a distracted truck driver will display certain behaviors that could indicate they are not paying full attention to the road, such as:
- Drifting across road lines or swerving across the road
- Gradually slowing down only to speed back up
- Not keeping up with the pace of traffic
- Late braking in response to slowdowns in traffic
- Random braking
- Sudden steering maneuvers
- Taking turns or on/off ramps at the last moment
- Unsafe maneuvers, such as changing lanes or turning without signaling
You might also see a truck driver in their cab engaging in distracting behavior, such as looking at their cell phone or away from the wheel.
Following a truck accident, one of the clear signs that the truck driver was distracted in the moments leading up to the collision includes the lack of braking or attempt to avoid the collision. This may be shown by the lack of skid marks on the road, or by information from the truck’s electronic data recorder, which includes data about steering, acceleration, and braking.
How to Prove That the Truck Driver Was Distracted
If you have been the victim of a distracted truck driving accident, our firm will work meticulously to secure evidence to prove that the truck driver was distracted in the moments leading up to the crash.
Our investigation would include looking at the electronic data recorder records from the truck (if it was equipped with an EDR). An EDR operates similarly to a black box on an airplane, collecting data about the truck’s GPS position, speed, steering, braking, and acceleration inputs. Sufficiently detailed EDR data can show whether the truck driver attempted to avoid an accident or braked far later than an attentive driver would have.
We will also examine accident scene photos to look for environmental evidence suggesting that a truck driver took (or did not take) evasive measures to avoid the crash, as well as any toxicology reports to rule out that the accident was caused by drunk driving. Because a distracted driver can behave similarly to an impaired driver, it can be important to review the results of any tests that were taken at the scene.
Our firm will also request to inspect the truck involved in the accident and obtain any damage reports. Visual evidence is always compelling in the wake of a wreck, both to determine the cause but also the impact of the crash on the other vehicle and its occupants.
In addition, we will interview eyewitnesses who may have observed the truck driver engaging in distracted driving behaviors.
Dispatch records between the truck driver and the trucking company may show if the truck driver was engaged with their radio at the time of the accident. In addition, we can subpoena the trucker’s cell phone records, which can show if the driver was active on their phone at the time of the accident.
Many commercial trucks are equipped with in-cab cameras to allow the trucking company to monitor their drivers. We may also request to review this footage during our investigation.
Finally, we will examine the truck driver’s hours-of-service logs, which will show how long the driver had been on duty prior to the accident. The longer a driver stays on duty, the more fatigued they become, and the more likely their minds are to wander.
Contact a Distracted Truck Driving Accident Attorney in Waldorf, MD
If you’ve been injured in a distracted driving accident involving a commercial truck, the costs to receive proper medical treatment alone can send victims spiraling into debt. That doesn’t account for time missed from work, long-term economic losses, and pain and suffering. Fortunately, you have legal options.
Talk to Trollinger Law LLC. Maryland personal injury laws allow victims of distracted drivers to demand compensation if they are victims of negligence. With a truck accident lawyer’s help, you can be best positioned to obtain the compensation you are owed.
Don’t wait another day to get on the path to justice. Call or contact Attorney Matt Trollinger for a free consultation.