Distracted driving is a huge problem nationwide. From Columbia to anywhere else in South Carolina, you might notice more than a few drivers are caught up in their cellular phones or other devices while on the road. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report establishes that around 660,000 motorists are using a cell phone while driving at any time of day. This prevalence has made identifying distracted drivers a common practice. When someone behind the wheel of a truck is distracted, it can have devastating results. Finding out if a truck driver isn’t paying attention while driving can save lives, including your own.
Common Distractions to Truck Drivers
Much like car operators, tractor-trailer drivers are privy to various potential distractions when behind the wheel. However, driving a truck is a different world compared to driving a car or van, especially if you’re a commercial truck driver. Truckers spend several hours per day driving down highways with little respite, altering their focus and being a distraction in itself. Full attention is needed when operating a tractor-trailer, or else it may lead to catastrophic results.
First, there’s the mobile phone issue. As you can imagine, driving with one hand occupied on a cell phone while the other is trying to control an 18-wheeler is risky behavior in its purest form. Controlling a truck takes skills and strong attention to detail. Making a call or sending a text while trying to do this will make that control less achievable. If you notice the truck isn’t moving when a stoplight changes or is swerving just a bit when there’s no need to, the driver might be using a cell phone. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration prohibited texting for truck drivers in January 2010 and, a year later, made it illegal for truckers to use cell phones while driving.
Another common type of distraction that involves a truck driver is falling asleep behind the wheel. All that exhaustion from moving around and carrying heavy machinery will take its tool and may tempt a driver to close his or her eyes for just a split second. Taking your eyes off the road for that split second can lead to a collision, considering visibility while driving a truck isn’t as clear as with a car. It’s for this reason why the federal government has placed restrictions on how long commercial drivers can stay on the road. Despite these restrictions, several truck drivers ignore them, risking tiredness so they can make extra deliveries and improve their money-making output for each day. If you notice that the truck is moving quickly in an uncontrolled way in a specific direction, crossing over into lanes, these may be signs that the driver is a bit tired.
That exhaustion can be further encouraged by alcohol or drug usage. Using alcohol and drugs is a dangerous decision that can leave a truck driver dazed. In some cases, drivers will take stimulants such as methamphetamines to try and stay awake throughout the day. They might keep the driver up for a while but could prompt them to speed unnecessarily. Drugs and alcohol can make a driver more reckless and carefree about their surroundings, leading to veering to the left or right of the center lane. Stay as far away from a truck exhibiting these signs as much as possible, so you don’t get hurt, or worse.
Other notable distractions for truck drivers include tandem driving, where some drivers will take trips together to haul more goods and cover more distances. While this seems smart at first glance, the trucker in the passenger seat can always distract the driver, especially when engaging in conversation. They can also be affected by external things such as other vehicles, a billboard, or anything random. When such distractions catch a car driver’s eye, it’s bad enough. When someone is operating a big-rig and succumbs to such obstacles, it leaves the driver in a scary predicament.
Proving Responsibility After an Accident
If you’re involved in a collision with a truck that was veering wildly, speeding or the driver forgot to brake, you can hold the driver or trucking company responsible.
In attempting to prove that negligence on their part caused damage to you and your vehicle, you need pertinent information to make your legal case a valid one. It isn’t easy, and such hairy situations require a lot of combing through in order to establish cause and fault. One thing that will help your case is securing in-cab footage of the driver doing something other than driving when the accident happened. On the contrary, you can get nearby surveillance tapes, whether from businesses or elsewhere, that shows the driver wasn’t paying attention behind the wheel. Your attorney will also need dispatch device or cell phone records showing the driver used either while traveling.
Gathering as much witness information as you can from the scene will prove vital as the case unfolds. You will need witness statements from people who saw the accident or what the truck driver was doing moments before the accident. A police report documenting witness information and other details from the scene is important, though inadmissible as evidence in court. The officer can use that police report to memorize elements of the accident before taking the stand though. Take as much pictorial evidence from the scene as possible and get a distraction admission from the driver either on-scene or during the deposition. Also, get trucking records to show what the trucker was doing and how long that driver was on the road. The more evidence you have at the ready, the easier it will be for expert witnesses to reconstruct the accident and prove distracted driving caused the wreck.
The Clardy Law Firm can help you prove distracted driving was the cause of an accident and provide you with the necessary backing to boost your case. If you’re in South Carolina and need assistance in seeking damages for any injuries or expenses, get in touch right away.