Truck drivers must follow safety rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in order to reduce any possible endangerment to the public. The FMCSA has rules on a wide variety of different issues affecting truck accident risks.
A truck accident lawyer knows one of the areas the FMCSA addresses is the use of handheld cell phones and electronic devices by drivers of commercial motor vehicles.
The FMCSA bans handheld devices because of the added crash risk when a driver is distracted. However, according to Fleet Owner, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is raising concerns that the FMCSA rules do not go far enough and that more needs to be done in order to protect the public.
Are the FMCSA Rules on Trucker Distraction Good Enough to Protect the Public?
The FMCSA prohibits handheld cell phone use because the risk of a trucker being involved in a safety-critical event is six times greater when the driver is using a handheld electronic device. A “safety critical event” includes deviating from the lane, near collisions or an actual motor vehicle crash.
The FMCSA specifically believes handheld devices are unsafe because a truck driver will look away from the road for 3.8 seconds on average when dialing a cellular phone. If the trucker is traveling at a speed of 55 miles per hour, he could go 306 feet while he is looking at his cell phone instead of at the road.
It is good that the FMCSA has prohibited the use hand of handheld cell phones. However, the acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board stated the FMCSA”s current rules could “mislead people to believe that ‘hands-free’ is as safe as not using a phone at all.”
The FMCSA does not have a ban on hands-free devices, and NTSB officials believe it should prohibit the use of hands-free electronics in order to protect the public.
Studies have shown that using hands-free devices can cause a motorist to become just as distracted as using a handheld device. Furthermore, an FMCSA report on a train/truck crash that happened last May also demonstrates the tremendous consequences of a trucker not paying careful attention.
The train crash reportedly occurred when a driver who was using an electronic device did not properly check to make sure that the train tracks were clear. Because of this, the trucker entered the tracks and caused a 15-car freight train to derail. The freight train subsequently exploded.
The NTSB has expressed concerns that lack of sufficient FMCSA oversight was a contributing factor to this dangerous crash. Further, if the driver had not been permitted to use electronic devices under FMCSA rules, the driver may have been paying more attention and the accident might not have occurred.
The risk to the public is simply too great when a trucker has his attention taken away from the commercial motor vehicle he is operating. Everything possible should be done to keep the trucker’s focus on safety.
If you or a loved one has been injured contact Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. at (866) 408-0940 or visit https://www.cobywootenlaw.com. Serving Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth, TX and surrounding areas.