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Distracted Driving Doubly Dangerous When the Vehicle’s an 18-Wheeler

April may have been Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but the serious injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving are felt year-round.

In 2010, more than 3,000 people were killed on America’s roadways because of distracted drivers. One of the biggest distractions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is mobile phone use.

In fact, drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to be in a collision that causes injuries than drivers who don’t. And drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision.

Even talking on a hands-free device (such as earbuds with a microphone or a Bluetooth device) can use up to 39 percent of a driver’s brain power—concentration that should be directed at the road rather than on a conversation.

A collision with a private vehicle can certainly be serious, but when the accident involves an 18-wheeler, the results can be nothing short of devastating. Truck drivers who talk on cell phones or communicate by texting pose a serious safety risk on our roads and highways.

Fortunately, a newly enacted federal law prohibits commercial vehicle operators, such as truck drivers, from using handheld cellphones while driving. A commercial motor vehicle is one that weighs more than 10,000 pounds and crosses a state line for business purposes, or any vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds.

Drivers who violate the law could be fined $2,750 for each offense. Those with multiple violations could lose their commercial operator’s license. And companies that require or allow drivers to use handheld phones while driving face a penalty of up to $11,000.

While some companies have enacted strict policies forbidding drivers from using their mobile phones unless their vehicle is safely and legally parked, it’s a safe bet that many other companies will put profits ahead of safety and continue to require or allow their drivers to use their mobile phones while driving.

Of course, a “no talking or texting while driving” policy is a good one for all drivers, but the vast numbers of commercial vehicles on our roadways—combined with their sheer size—makes such a policy mandatory for anyone operating them.

Whether the cause is driver fatigue, improper truck maintenance, and/or improper screening, training and supervision of drivers, the Dallas truck accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson have the experience, resources and technical abilities to figure out what happened and who should be held responsible in a truck accident. Our Dallas truck accident law firm employs a full-time staff, including an experienced investigator, a medical professional, and audio and video production experts, in addition to resources that are necessary to properly prepare and present complex truck catastrophes.