Distracted driving—particularly the use of cell phones and other hand-held devices—is an increasingly common factor in car and truck accidents. The dangers of distracted driving are further compounded when a large vehicle like a tractor-trailer or bus is involved.
The Mobile, Alabama, truck accident attorneys at Long & Long welcome the recent news of a new rule that prohibits interstate semi-truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating a commercial truck or bus. The rule was established with the joint support of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Drivers found in violation of the rule can face fines of up to $2,750 for each offense as well as disqualification from driving a commercial vehicle after multiple violations. Individual states will suspend a driver’s commercial driver’s license if he or she receives two or more violations. Companies that encourage drivers to use cell phones while operating their rigs can also face fines.
Commercial drivers were already banned from sending text messages while operating their trucks or buses. However, FMCSA research shows that reaching for and dialing a cell phone also diverts the driver’s attention for a potentially fatal period of time.
According to an FMCSA press release on the new rule, commercial drivers who reach for their cell phones are three times more likely to be involved in a collision, and those dialing a cell phone are six times more likely to be involved in a crash.
The size of commercial buses and tractor-trailers, which may be transporting hazardous material, further increases the risk of severe injuries and fatalities to victims. In 2009, the last year for which full traffic accident statistics are available, nearly 5,500 people were killed and almost a half-million people were injured in accidents that involved distracted drivers.
If you were injured in an accident that involved a semi-truck or commercial bus, please contact the Mobile, Alabama, truck accident attorneys at Long & Long for your no-cost case evaluation.