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Trucking accidents are often caused by distracted driving

Long-haul drivers spend several hours behind the wheels of their big rigs. They, too, can get bored and complacent, which can lead them to look for distractions to keep their minds active while they travel. Sadly, distracted driving causes many trucking accidents in Louisiana and elsewhere.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration govern the rules and regulations that are to be followed by commercial motor vehicle drivers, including prohibiting texting and using mobile phones while driving. Texting is defined not only as typing or reading an actual text but also as using the other features of a smartphone, such as accessing email, web pages and instant messaging, among others. Basically, truck drivers are not supposed to reach for, hold or press more than one button on a mobile phone.

In making these rules, research was conducted to determine the dangers associated with the use of cellphones in violation of these rules. It was discovered that the risk of being involved in unsafe activities, including accidents, is nearly 23.2 times greater while texting. Research shows that it takes an average of 4.6 seconds to view a text. During that time, a vehicle traveling at 55 mph can cover the length of a football field. Violators face penalties, but if they are involved in accidents, paying fines are not going to erase the devastation that could occur.

Victims of trucking accidents, or their families in case of deaths, retain the right to file personal injury or wrongful death claims, as applicable, against truck drivers and their employers. If a truck driver was using a cellphone -- in violation of established rules and regulations -- at the time of the crash, that fact could be used to establish his or her negligence in a Louisiana civil court. Successfully establishing that the injuries suffered by the victims were caused by the negligence of another could result in an award of damages.

Source: cms.fmcsa.dot.gov, "Distracted Driving", Accessed on Aug. 21, 2016