Large commercial vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, are an extremely common sight on the roads and highways of Texas. Indeed, commerce and industry in America depend on reliable deliveries by truckers and trucking companies. In order to operate at peak efficiency, operators, shippers and dispatchers need to be in regular communication with each other.
Sometimes, the desire to keep communication lines open and maintain schedules can make it tempting for a commercial vehicle driver to engage in texting and driving. This is dangerous behavior and is forbidden by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Texting definitions and regulations
There are many devices capable of allowing nearly instant communication, including tablets and computers. Naturally, cellular phones are the most common, just as they are with non-commercial drivers. The FMCSA makes no distinction between cell phones and any other text-capable devices.
The FMCSA website defines "texting" as either reading or manually entering text into a device. Texting includes:
- Reading or writing e-mail
- Using Short Message Services (SMS)
- Accessing a web page
- Instant messaging
- Any form of electronic text entry or retrieval
Risks and repercussions of texting for commercial vehicle operators
Studies commissioned by the FMCSA have shown that the odds of a commercial vehicle operator being involved in a "safety-critical event" such as a collision, near-collision or unintentional lane change, are more than 23 times greater while texting. The average texting event takes 4.6 seconds, which at 55 mph translates into driving 371 feet without looking at the road.
Stiff penalties may be applied to drivers and their employers if texting and driving is observed. A driver may be fined as much as $2,750, and a complicit employer may be fined up to $11,000. Multiple convictions may even result in disqualification from the FMSCA.
The risks you face if in an accident with a large vehicle
It almost goes without saying that being in an accident with a large commercial vehicle is extremely dangerous. Private cars and trucks are no match for huge semis, straight trucks or construction vehicles. Near misses can be just as dangerous, as they may force you into another lane, into on-coming traffic or off the road entirely.
The repercussions of an accident involving a commercial vehicle may include:
- Internal injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Dismemberment or disfigurement
Serious accidents may also lead to you facing financial burdens from hospital bills, rehabilitation, time off work and vehicle repairs.
What should I do if I've been in an accident with a commercial vehicle?
As an individual against an organized company, it may be difficult to achieve justice in the courts, even if the other driver seemed to be at fault. By consulting with a lawyer who has great experience fighting against FMCSA violations in Texas, including drivers who text, it may be possible to receive the compensation you deserve.