Distracted Driving Semi-Truck Accidents
Distracted drivers present a danger to those sharing the road under any circumstances. However, due to the size and weight of large commercial trucks, distracted drivers behind the wheels of these big rigs pose an even greater risk.
Distracted driving among commercial truck drivers is the second-most common cause of large truck accidents, following only truck accidents caused by speeding, according to research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA).
What Is Considered Distracting Driving in Baton Rouge?
According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, “Although cell phone use and texting are two of the most common distractions, any activity that takes a driver’s mind off of the task of driving, hands off the steering wheel, or eyes off the road is considered a distraction.”
These behaviors include texting, phone calls, eating, changing radio stations, interaction with passengers, and more.
Some distracted driving actions may be more common among truck drivers than drivers of passenger vehicles. These include:
- Personal grooming — Truck drivers spend long hours on the road and may skip breaks in order to travel more miles or get to their destination more quickly. In fact, many trucking companies actually incentivize drivers to spend as much time on the road as possible. As a result, truck drivers may brush their hair or teeth, shave, or put on makeup while driving.
- Eating and drinking — Similar to personal grooming, truck drivers may avoid taking breaks to eat, believing that they can safely drive while eating. In reality, eating and drinking mean a driver must take their hands off the wheel and look away from the road. Even if only for a second, this behavior can be extremely dangerous.
- Watching videos or using entertainment devices — Driving for several hours can become very boring, especially if you do it every day. Truck drivers may watch TV, movies, or play games to pass the time. Some long-haul commercial trucks even have TVs or DVD players installed that are intended for use during breaks while the truck is stopped. Watching videos or playing games while driving is highly distracting and very dangerous.
The aggressive advocacy of the semi-truck accident attorneys at Tomeny | Best Injury Lawyers has helped hundreds of Baton Rouge accident victims recover millions of dollars in compensation. We have the experience and the endurance needed to fight for the maximum recovery you deserve, whether through tough negotiations with insurance adjusters or relentless trial litigation.
For more than three decades, our firm has built an award-winning team dedicated exclusively to fighting for the rights of personal injury victims just like you. To discuss the details of your case in a free consultation with our Louisiana legal team, call us now or reach out online.
Louisiana Laws on Distracted Driving
Louisiana law prohibits the following actions while driving:
- Reading, writing, or sending texts
- Using social media
- Any use of wireless devices, even hands-free, if the driver is under the age of 16
- The use of cell phones in school zones
- Cell phone use if the driver is under the age of 18, driving with a learner’s permit, or a driver who has had their license for less than one year
If you are caught driving while distracted, the fines mandated by Louisiana state law are fairly steep:
- For drivers over the age of 18 – $500 for the first offense; $1,000 and a 60-day license suspension for the second and subsequent violations
- For drivers under the age of 18 – Up to $250 for the first offense, up to a $500 fine plus a 60-day license suspension for second and subsequent violations
These fines are doubled if the violation results in an accident.
There are some situations in which drivers are legally permitted to use phones while driving.
These situations include:
- Reporting an emergency (traffic accident/hazard, fire, etc.)
- Calling for help if their personal safety is at risk
- Reporting a crime
- Operating an emergency vehicle and using a cell phone as part of their job
- While legally parked
Texting while stopped at a stoplight or stop sign is NOT permitted.
There are other distracted driving actions that are not technically prohibited by Louisiana state law, but if a driver is distracted and then gets in an accident, they may be charged with reckless driving and be sued in civil court.
Distracted Driving Semi-Truck Accidents Facts and Figures
The FMCSA has reported many alarming statistics showcasing the very real dangers presented by distracted drivers behind the wheels of large commercial trucks, such as:
- Truck drivers who text or use handheld devices behind the wheel are more than 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision.
- Distracted truck drivers who simply reach for a nearby object triple their likelihood of being involved in a crash.
- Commercial drivers who text while driving divert their eyes from the road ahead for an average of nearly five seconds, enough time to drive the length of a football field while traveling at just 55 mph.
- Truck operators who use work-related dispatching devices while driving are nine times more likely to be involved in a “safety-critical event.”
Distracted truck drivers who cause car accidents are rarely the only victims of their own inattention.
Throughout one recent year, more than 4,000 people were killed in large truck crashes throughout America. Of those victims:
- 67 percent were occupants of cars or light trucks, while 15 percent were motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians.
- Only 16 percent were CDL truck drivers.
- Drivers dialing handheld devices were 600 percent more likely to be involved in truck accidents.
- Drivers texting behind the wheel were 23 times more likely to be involved in a “safety-critical event.”
How to Prove Distracted Driving Caused a Baton Rouge Truck Crash
Proving that a driver was distracted when causing an accident is often complicated. Some distracted-driving situations are easier to prove than others.
Our attorneys may use the following types of evidence to prove the driver who hit you was distracted:
- Eyewitnesses – Witness testimony from those who observed the accident can be powerful. A witness could be a person who was in the car with the at-fault driver, a bystander who saw the accident, or individuals in other vehicles who witnessed the crash, for example.
- Cell phone records – Records of text messages and calls can be very helpful in proving that a driver was using their phone when an accident occurred. If a cell phone record shows that the driver was texting at the time of the accident or in the middle of a conversation when the accident occurred, it will provide compelling evidence that the driver was distracted.
- Photographic or video evidence – Photographic and video evidence can include driver or police dashcams, surveillance cameras, and cell phone videos from witnesses. This kind of evidence is extremely difficult to refute and is often the most solid evidence in proving distracted driving.
- Admission of fault from other drivers – A driver may admit their negligent behavior after the accident. They may say something like: “Sorry, I was checking my GPS and didn’t notice you’d stopped in front of me.” However, a plain admission of fault may not actually be admissible in court under hearsay rules. However, it can still be helpful in your case, especially if you’re working toward an out-of-court settlement.
What Can You Do If You Are Injured by a Distracted Truck Driver in Baton Rouge?
If you are injured by a distracted truck driver, you may be eligible for compensation. In Louisiana, you generally have two paths for pursuing compensation. You can either make a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver or file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Get Help If You’ve Been Hurt by a Distracted Trucker
If you’ve been injured by a trucker’s distracted driving, the attorney you choose as your legal representative will have a significant impact on your potential recovery. You need a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer with real experience both in and out of the courtroom.
At Tomeny | Best Injury Lawyers, our office is staffed with former insurance attorneys and trial judges. We are committed to using the full depth and breadth of our experience to protect your best interests.
You can trust our team to use our extensive resources and deep knowledge of the law to maximize the compensation you could receive for your suffering. Not only will we fight diligently for your recovery, we are also committed to providing personalized, dedicated attention to our clients.
We want to fight for you and your family, not just your case. We look forward to showing how we can help in a free initial case review. To get started, call us or contact us online now.