Distraction Behind the Wheel Can Lead to Devastating Truck Accidents
Nearly 4,000 people are killed and thousands more are severely injured in truck accidents every year in the United States. The victims are usually the drivers and occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash. Sometimes pedestrians are also injured or killed. Statistics show that the cause of a majority of truck accidents is distracted driving – by truckers as well as drivers of other vehicles.
Distracted trucking is extremely dangerous and irresponsible behavior because the potential destructive force of large tractor trailers in motion is huge. Talk to any experienced truck accident attorney and he will tell you that a significant percentage of his clients were victims of distracted trucking.
Meaning of Distracted Trucking
Distracted trucking occurs when a truck driver engages in another activity while driving, such as texting, adjusting the radio and eating. Any activity that takes the trucker’s eyes away from the road, even if only for a few seconds, can cause the driver to lose control of his or vehicle. In areas with heavy traffic, the consequences can be especially devastating.
Causes of Distracted Trucking
There are several causes of distracted trucking. Using a cellphone to talk or text has been one of the chief causes in the past one and a half decades. But cellphones are not the only causes of distracted driving; some have existed since the invention of motor vehicles. Some of the most common causes of distracted driving are:
- Using a cellphone while driving
- Texting while driving
- Talking to passengers
- Eating and drinking
- Dropping something and bending down to pick it up
- Adjusting the radio or stereo system
- Talking with a crew member
- Handling GPS devices
- Daydreaming or being lost in one’s thoughts
The Statistics Are Disturbing
Truck accidents result in thousands of fatalities and hundreds of thousands of injuries requiring medical attention each year. Below are some disturbing facts and statistics obtained from distraction.gov:
- The number of people killed and injured in the United States in 2014 (the last year for which complete data is available) were 3,179 and 431,000 respectively. Many of these deaths and injuries occurred in trucking accidents.
- 10% of all drivers between 15 and 19 years of age involved in fatal crashes were reported to be distracted at the time of the crash. Truck drivers can start as young as 18 years as long as they are planning on trucking only within their own state.
- 26% percent of all drivers in their 20s who were involved in fatal accidents were reported to be distracted at the time of the crash. 38% percent of them were using cellphones.
- The percentage of people visibly texting or handling some other handheld device while driving rose from 1.7% in 2013 to 2.2% in 2014. Young drivers have been observed using electronic devices while driving at a higher rate than older drivers.
- A survey by Erie Insurance in 2015 showed that drivers do all sorts of things behind the wheel, including changing their clothes and brushing their teeth. The survey also found that more than 30% of drivers text when driving.
- The average time that texting keeps a driver’s eyes off the road is five seconds. When driving at a speed of 55 mph, that is enough time to cover the length of a football field. Imagine driving that distance blindfolded.
- At any given moment during the day, more than half a million drivers are using cellphones or other electronic devices while driving across the United States. Since an estimated 15.5 million of these vehicles are trucks, it can be deduced that many of these distracted drivers are truck drivers.
Consequences of Distracted Trucking
Truck crashes often result in massive property damages and debilitating injuries, such as spinal column injuries (SCI), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), loss of limbs, whiplash, fractured bones, and severe burn injuries. These injuries and their symptoms can last for a lifetime.
Anyone can be a victim of distracted trucking. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact an experienced truck accident attorney immediately to discuss your best legal options for recovery.