April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month in the U.S. and the National Safety Council is attempting to increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, there are about 500,000 traffic accidents each year in the state, with many causing serious injuries or death of drivers, passengers or pedestrians. DMV statistics say that a person dies in an auto accident every two and a half hours in California.
The most common causes of motor vehicle accidents are distracted driving, drunk driving and speeding. Seeking to reduce the number of accidents caused by distractions, many states require cellphone hands-free technology for commercial truck drivers. While recognizing that hands-free devices often do not afford any safety benefit because of the cognitive distraction, the requirement is a step in the right direction. However, there are many other types of distractions common to semi-truck drivers such as:
- Eating and drinking
- Checking maps or GPS devices
- Talking with passengers
- Reaching for an item within the cab of the truck
Another issue that plagues tractor-trailer drivers and commercial truckers is fatigued driving. Due to the amount of time truck drivers are on the road, many of them struggle with sleepiness while working. Sleep-related truck accidents can cause serious damage, injuries and deaths due to the sheer size of the vehicles. A small car is no match for a fully loaded 18-wheeler.
In recognition of the dangers of truck driver fatigue, many safety rules apply to commercial drivers. Currently, truck drivers are limited to certain numbers of hours worked as compared to the hours of rest they must have. Detailed recordkeeping is essential and can be burdensome for drivers and truck companies. Often, such tracking is incorrect or can be illegally adjusted, allowing tired drivers to remain on the roads for too long.
In an effort to improve safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed a new law requiring electronic logging devices in commercial trucks and buses just last month. The electronic logging devices will track the hours of service for each driver, greatly reducing the amount of paperwork, mistakes and intentional adjustments. The proposed law will mean vastly improved safety on the nation's roads.
Help for accident victims
If you or a loved one is involved in a motor vehicle accident through the fault of another driver, seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury lawyer near me. An attorney knowledgeable about truck driving accidents and serious injuries and deaths can help.