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No one wants to share the road with distracted big rig drivers

Commercial truck drivers from Connecticut travel the roadways nationwide. If you are one of them, you likely know the potential hazards of your job. The fact that you spend many hours in your own company might make the temptation to use a mobile phone irresistible. The laws prohibiting mobile phone use by drivers apply nationwide.

You might think it will only take a moment to check an incoming message on your phone, but studies show that it typically takes a driver's eyes off the road for 3.8 to 4.6 seconds at a time. While this might seem insignificant, if your speed is about 55mph, your truck will travel more than the length of a football field during those few seconds. What happens while your vehicle travels those 300 feet uncontrolled could cause death or injuries to you or other road users.

What constitutes mobile phone distraction?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the following actions constitute distraction by mobile devices:

  • Reaching: You may not reach for your cellphone in a way that requires you to move out of your normal driving position with your seat belt secured.
  • Holding: You may not hold your phone — not even with one hand — to use it for making or receiving a call or to send or read a message.
  • Dialing: You may not press more than a single button on your cellphone.
  • Texting: You may not enter any alphanumeric text into the phone or a dispatching device.
  • Reading: You may not read text messages on your phone or any electronic device.

The only exception is making an emergency call to law enforcement or 911.

Federal regulations

The FMCSA wants truckers to take note that it prohibits any use of a hand-held device while driving a commercial truck. The following notes are also in the interest of the safer operation of large vehicles:

  • If you are caught using your cellphone or another mobile device you might incur fines and your vehicle might be put out-of-service or disqualified.
  • The agency says safety-critical events are 23 times more likely when commercial vehicle operators text while driving and six times more likely when dialing.
  • The federal rules apply in all states.
  • The FMCSA rules do not apply to mounted hands-free devices, nor do they apply to dispatching devices — as long as they are hands-free and not used to send text messages.

What can be the consequences of distracted driving?

In the event of a truck accident due to distraction, injured victims or the families of deceased victims might hold you and your employer or the owner of the commercial vehicle liable. The legal proceedings likely will be challenging, and the assistance of an attorney who has experience in personal injury cases would certainly be an asset.

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