While public awareness regarding the dangers posed by distracted drivers has been raised, public service announcements (PSAs) and similar education programs tend to focus on non-commercial drivers traveling to work, school or stores. The reality is that a distracted driver behind the wheel of a semi-truck weighing 40 tons that is bearing down on a stopped passenger car weighing only one ton is especially frightening. Many people dismiss the risk of distracted driving by truck drivers because a federal regulations that took effect on January 3, 2012 banned hand-held use of cell phones by commercial drivers, which includes truckers and bus drivers. Although this ban was a positive step in the right direction, our Miami truck accident lawyers think the regulation’s effectiveness in protecting vehicle occupants from being involved in rear-end trucking accidents has been compromised by a number of factors.
Handheld Cell Phone Ban for Truckers Is Hard to Enforce
The ban on handheld use of cell phones by truck drivers presents significant enforcement challenges for law enforcement officers. The cab of a semi-truck sits up much higher than a typical patrol car which makes it difficult for a law enforcement officer to determine that a truck driver is texting or talking on a cell phone. The truck driver may have the cell phone hidden in the driver’s lap or under the steering wheel. This means that many times a commercial driver’s illegal use of a cell phone might not be detected until the driver drifts into an adjacent lane or rear-ends another vehicle. Because smart phones have so many uses that are not prohibited, law enforcement officers also may be less motivated to cite commercial drivers. This disincentive stems from the difficulty in proving an unauthorized use of a cell phone which typically will require submitting a subpoena to the cell phone carrier to obtain phone records.
Use of a Bluetooth Does Not Eliminate Driver Distractions
The value of the ban on handheld mobile phone use by truck drivers is based on the assumption that Bluetooth use substantially reduces mobile phone distractions. While it seems reasonable that a driver who keeps his or her hands on the wheel rather than manipulating a portable electronic device will be safer, this assumption does not account for the role of “cognitive distractions”. Researchers at the University of Utah Center for the Prevention of Distracted Driving conducted a study that measured brainwave activity associated with various distractions. The study revealed that drivers using a hands-free device were almost as cognitively distracted as drivers using a handheld phone. Further, drivers using speech to text devices were three times as distracted as those who were simply listening to the radio.
Some Commercial Drivers & Trucking Companies Disregard the Ban
Although handheld use of a smart phone is banned by federal regulations, the accidents caused by such devices provide evidence that some truck drivers continue to violate the ban. While certain trucking companies might implement strict rules to prevent such violations because of concerns about liability, other trucking companies may be lax about enforcing such bans. If trucking companies are not diligent about enforcing such policies, truck drivers might well assume the risk of detection is not significant enough to give up the convenience of a handheld cell phone.
Tenacious Representation for Victims of Rear-End Trucking Accidents Injured by Distracted Drivers
In each and every case our office handles, we make it our practice to go over each and every complaint our clients have from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet. We do this because patients often fail to tell their physician about all of their complaints, thinking that what they are feeling is not related to the injuries suffered in their case. We are not doctors, but we explain to our clients that they need to let the doctor know because he/she may feel that there is a relationship. For example, victims complaining of lower back pain may not tell their doctor that they are having tingling or numbness in their leg. If the doctor is informed of the symptom, the doctor can examine the patient and determine the cause of the complaint.
Our Miami tractor-trailer accident lawyers have handles dozens of Florida trucking accidents resulting in death and serious injury. We have recovered from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for these claims. If you or a loved one is injured in a trucking accident, we invite you to contact the South Florida law office of Greenberg Stone and Urbano today. For over 120 collective years, we have aggressively represented the victims of trucking accidents across South Florida. Our commitment to excellence in providing legal services has earned us an “AV” rating from Martindale Hubbell, and it is why we have been asked to join Primerus, an international society of leading law firms. Moreover, the Miami Herald voted us as one of the top-rated South Florida law firms, and, we have earned the title of “Superlawyers,” designating us as being among the best lawyers in America. We want to put this dedication to work for you, so call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule an initial consultation either in our main office, your home or hospital, or at one of the offices were we see client’s by appointment.