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Distracted truckers: How big is the problem?

Given the amount of California traffic, the last thing you need to deal with as you drive our roads, highways and freeways is a distracted truck driver. Unfortunately, however, the problem of distracted truckers just keeps growing. For instance, a Minnesota truck driver allegedly watching a porn video in the cab of his truck crashed into, and killed, a highway worker just last month.

Per TCI Capital, truck drivers routinely exhibit the following three types of distraction:

  1. Manual distraction: the type that occurs when a driver takes his or her hands off the steering wheel, to do something else
  2. Visual distraction: the type that occurs when a driver takes his or her eyes off the road, to look at something else
  3. Cognitive distraction: the type that occurs when a driver takes his or her mind off driving, to concentrate on something else

If you stop to think about it, when a trucker uses his or her cellphone -- especially a hand-held one -- to talk, text or watch a video, he subjects himself to all three types of distraction. You and your passengers, in turn, may well become the victims of his or her distracted driving.

Federal regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees and regulates the over-the-road trucking industry, and its rules and regulations prohibit a truck driver from using any kind of hand-held device while behind the wheel. When a driver chooses to ignore these regulations and gets caught using his or her cellphone or other hand-held device, (s)he faces a fine that can go as high as $2,700. If a trucking company require its drivers to use one while driving, it, too, faces a fine, in this case as much as $11,000.

Despite these regulations and substantial penalties for ignoring them, many truckers nevertheless continue to engage in the dangerous practice of cellphone usage while driving. In addition, many of them fail to take the mandatory rest breaks required by the FMCSA.

Considering that your passenger vehicle is considerably smaller and lighter than an 18-wheeler, you and your passengers face a high risk of catastrophic injuries should a distracted trucker crash into you. Thus, a word to the wise. Take even greater care and be sure to drive defensively when you see commerical trucks around you on the highway.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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