Cognitive Distraction and Trucking Accidents
Unlike robots, humans need to eat, sleep, use the bathroom and rest in order to stay aware and alert.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published statistics which show that many commercial truck drivers have been caught violating safety rules. The report cites how many truckers were caught, usually a small percentage of how many truckers are engaging in lawless behavior.
According to the FMCSA report, 69,906 drivers were cited for driving over the 8-hour limit without taking at least a 30-minute break. 43,027 drivers exceeded the 14-hour duty period without taking a 10-hour break mandated by law. This could be due to trucking companies setting unrealistic schedules, or for independent drivers, trying to get more miles and make more money and/or compete with other drivers for the business.
Distractions While Driving
Activities which can distract a person’s attention from driving a commercial truck include:
- Cell phone use while driving
- Texting while driving
- Eating while driving
- Checking messages while driving
- Reading email while driving
- Changing the radio station
- Daydreaming/thinking about something else
- Looking down at the hot babe/dude in the next car
- Using a hands-free phone
- Looking at a map
- Peeing in a jug to avoid bathroom stops (seriously, this actually happens)
- Reaching for something
- Talking to a passenger
Doing or thinking about anything but driving is dangerous, but for somebody operating a vehicle that weighs over 10 tons and/ or transports hazardous material it is deadly.
Texting and Driving Accident Statistics
Of all the activities that distract drivers, texting while driving seems to be the main culprit. Though it is illegal and, if you are a commercial truck driver, can get you a fine of up to $2,750, we have an epidemic of people who are texting and driving, and many are commercial truckers.
Recently the FMCSA commissioned a research study which showed that commercial truckers who text while driving are over 23 times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event (crash; near crash; accidentally going outside the driving lane). The code prohibits texting or other cell phone use while driving, or even while the motor is running, including while stopped in traffic or at a traffic signal.
Dialing a cell phone takes around 3.8 seconds. If the trucker is only going 55 mph, that’s the length of a football field with the driver’s eyes and attention off the road. Odds are that if the negligent driver does it frequently he or she will cause an accident, and if driving a commercial truck that weighs more than 10,000 pounds, somebody will likely suffer grave injury or die in the accident.
Passengers in the other vehicle involved in a fatal crash are 6 times more likely to be killed than the trucker. Unlike a gambling game like Russian roulette where a player loads a single bullet into the chamber of a gun, spins the cylinder, then pulls the trigger while aiming the gun at one’s own head, distracted drivers are gambling with the lives of other drivers. In light of statistics which show distracted driving to be a leading factor second only to speeding that causes trucking accidents, this reckless behavior is not uncommon and has tragic, yet predictable, consequences.
How Can You Prove Distracted Truck Driving Caused the Accident?
Chances are that nobody saw or took a picture of the truck driver right before the accident occurred. In order to prove your case, you will need to obtain records that the trucking company has no obligation to give you until you file a complaint in civil court. Investigating the accident scene with some knowledge of forensics is also a good way to obtain evidence.
Phone records, to include personal phone or company phone, can contain proof of the calls or texting while driving that occurred prior to, during and after the collision.
In order to get a fair settlement or jury award, you will probably need to hire a trucking accident law firm that is experienced in investigating and proving negligence in trucking accidents. Isaacs & Isaacs trucking accident lawyers have decades of experience in obtaining the evidence to prove inattentive driving caused a horrific accident. We also employ attorneys with experience in insurance defense, so we are aware of the tactics the trucker’s insurance company will use to avoid liability.
A thorough investigation includes locating all responsible drivers and their employers and contacting their liability insurance company, then directing them to preserve the phones and to keep them as far as possible in the same condition as when the collision occurred, without altering or deleting any messages or proof of calls.
Trucking Insurance Companies Are at the Accident Scene
Because accidents involving giant trucks cause grave injury, property damage and death, trucker liability can mean a claim settlement of millions of dollars. The commercial truck insurance company will be notified immediately of the accident, and they have rapid response teams of adjusters, accident reconstructionists, photographers, and even attorneys at their beck and call to go to the scene and locate evidence, witnesses, and anything else that will help them avoid blame for causing the collision. Even if the insurance investigators cannot remove all fault on their truck driver, they will attempt to see if there is anything that can shift some of the fault or blame to you since that reduces what they pay.
Cooperate with the police, but do not talk under any circumstances to anyone with the investigative team hired and paid for by the trucking company’s insurance company. They can show up at the accident scene or even pop up at the hospital to ask you what happened.
If the person wanting to talk to you is not wearing a police uniform, then you need to ask them to show you their identification and to tell you who they are working for, to include the name of the insurance company and who they represent. And still, you should not talk to them about the facts and circumstances surrounding the collision. Do not apologize, do not explain your side, do not discuss your injuries. It is that simple. You do not have to talk to them. So, don’t talk to them. There is nothing you can say or do to convince them to help you, and talking only hurts you.
Your best protection against the trucking insurance company’s ruthless tactics is to hire an experienced attorney. Of course, having been hit by a truck you are most likely hurting for money, as well as just hurting. Isaacs & Isaacs truck accident attorneys will represent you on a contingency fee basis. We won’t get our money until and unless we obtain your money.
We will bear the cost of investigating your claim, and gathering evidence to prove truck driver inattention, hence the trucker was negligent and liable for damages, and if the accident occurred during work hours , so is his employer. If necessary, we will file a lawsuit which will allow us to do many things. In the pre-trial phase of civil litigation which is called discovery both sides can:
- Subpoena witnesses to testify under oath;
- Demand production of records including trucking company records and cell phone records which could show what the driver was doing at the time of the crash;
- Demand to see the evidence the other side has, including the black box recording from the truck;
- Ask questions (propound interrogatories) that must be answered truthfully in writing.
Civil litigation is expensive, and can drag on for months, but we will advance the costs, hire the experts, take the depositions, and do what is necessary to protect your interests and get all the money you deserve for your harms and losses. Isaacs & Isaacs truck accident attorneys will represent you on a contingency fee basis, and we won’t get our money until and unless we obtain your money.
Isaacs & Isaacs truck accident lawyers fight hard to get you every penny you deserve and need to heal and go forward with your life. The sooner you enlist our help, the sooner we can begin to investigate your case before:
- Evidence disappears
- Witnesses forget what they saw
- The time limit for filing your case or claim expires
Insurance investigators are on call day and night, and so are Isaacs and Isaacs skilled and experienced truck accident lawyers. We will be at your side immediately to protect your interests.
Call us now for a free case evaluation and to get some answers. Our 24/7 hotline number is 800-800-888 . We are here for you.