Truck drivers and the trucking industry deliver the goods and products we use each day. It takes special knowledge and licensing to know how to handle a big rig, as well as skill in navigating through all types of road and traffic situations.
The perils and hazards that come with driving a truck demand a drivers’ complete attention, and being distracted behind the wheel puts both the truck driver and other motorists they encounter in danger. Distracted driving accidents are unfortunately common, and truck accidents involving distracted truck drivers often result in severe and potentially life-threatening injuries for those involved.
Here is what you need to know about this serious problem, and well as what you can do if you have been injured in a truck accident.
What You Need to Know About Truck Accidents
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), while the commercial trucking industry is a valuable part of our national economy, the number of truck accidents has been increasing over the last several years. The most recent statistics from the NTSB indicate the following:
- More than 100,000 people were injured in trucking accidents in the United States during a single recent year.
- Nearly 4,000 people were killed due to trucking accidents.
- Due to the size and bulk of most commercial trucks, car drivers involved in truck accidents suffer more severe and potentially life-threatening injuries.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is a leading advocate for the commercial trucking industry and helps to educate both drivers and the general public on issues related to driver safety. The ATA points to distracted driving as a significant cause in over 400,000 accidents that occur each year in the U.S. Distracted driving can result from engaging in any activity that takes your attention away from the road when driving. The ATA acknowledges driver inattention as one of the leading factors when it comes to trucking accidents, and one of the biggest culprits in distracting drivers are cellphones and texting.
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Regulations and Laws About Distracted Driving For Truckers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a national agency established as a separate part of the United States Department of Transportation, with the specific mission to help improve safety within the commercial trucking industry in the hopes of preventing truck accidents. In response to concerns over the dangers posed by distracted truck drivers, specific rules prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers from texting or using handheld devices have been put in place. Under these national rules, commercial motor vehicle drivers are prohibited from doing the following:
- Using handheld devices to make or receive calls.
- Sending or reading incoming texts or email messages.
- Accessing web pages or engaging in online games.
Violators face fines up to $2,750 as well as possible driver disqualification, while trucking companies that allow or condone drivers using handheld devices behind the wheel face civil penalties of up to $11,000.
In addition to national regulations prohibiting texting while driving, using cellphones and texting while driving is also illegal under New York law. All drivers are prohibited from talking or texting on mobile handheld devices, and an officer is entitled to stop a driver if they witness a handheld device being used. Penalties for texting and driving in New York include five driver’s license penalty points and up to $450, depending on whether you have any prior offenses.
The Consequences of Distracted Driving
Despite both state and national laws and regulations, a WABC-New York news report on distracted driving indicates that a dangerous amount of distracted truck drivers remain on the roads. According to the report, truck drivers were spotted texting and driving on major highways and interstates throughout the city, including the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Long Island Expressway. The drivers were caught on camera by the news team, spending long seconds gazing at their cellphones instead of the road in front of them.
A few seconds is all it takes for a distracted driving accident to occur, according to these facts from the FMCSA:
- Any driver who engages in texting while driving takes their eyes of the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this equates to the length of an entire football field.
- Truck drivers who engage in this behavior are more than 23 times more likely than other drivers to be involved in an accident.
- Truck drivers who dial a handheld mobile phone while driving are six times more likely to get into an accident than other drivers.
A distracted driver whose attention is not on the road puts themselves in danger, but also endangers the lives of all other drivers on the road.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Injuries caused by truck accidents can be catastrophic. You may require repeated surgeries and ongoing treatments in order to repair the damage done, and your accident may have left you with permanent disabilities that can have a tremendous impact on your ability to support yourself and your loved ones.
In the days following your accident, you will likely be contacted by an insurance company and an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case. Common tactics among insurance companies include using statements made by victims to cast doubt on who is to blame for the accident, thereby allowing them to deny your claim. The insurance company may also try to undervalue your claim, offering you a settlement amount that is far less than what you actually deserve.
Before speaking the insurance company or accepting any settlements, contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP. Our team of professional and caring Long Island Truck accident lawyers and staff can advise you on how to get the maximum amount of compensation you need in order to recover from your accident, and we can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. In some cases, your interests may be better served by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
You may be entitled to the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment or quality of life
- Compensation for permanent disabilities
By filing a personal injury lawsuit you may also be entitled to punitive damages, which is a dollar amount awarded by the court to punish reckless and negligent behavior such as distracted driving.
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Contact Us Today for Help
If you or someone you care about has been involved in a car accident, contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP today. Our experienced Long Island car accident lawyers can help you determine the best course of action in your particular case, while ensuring your legal rights are protected. We understand the tactics insurance companies use to deny or undervalue claims. We can negotiate on your behalf, and assist you in holding responsible parties accountable.
Call or contact us online today for a free consultation.