Articles Posted in Distracted Driving

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The modern world today is driven by technological advancements. Everything from travel, leisure, and business is fueled by the ever increasing use of technology. We can research an important legal topic at lightning speed and conduct business meetings from halfway around the globe. This unavoidable push to the future is even making its way into the commercial trucking industry.

Researchers from Iowa State University are trying to incorporate the use of big data to big rig trucking. In a detailed report presented to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), researchers laid out some of the biggest obstacles trucking companies face, including delays, accidents, and safety. It is estimated that trucking companies lose millions of dollars annually sitting in traffic. This is why many truckers face intense pressure to drive as many hours as physically possible, even if it means knowingly disregarding federal trucking regulations such as hours of service. By employing real-time data collected by state traffic centers and other resources, researchers believe truck drivers could potentially receive information on traffic congestion, accidents, road conditions, and traffic speed.

This up-to-the second information could help truck drivers avoid congested or delayed roads, in turn resulting in faster and more punctual deliveries. Dave Cantor, one of the researchers from Iowa State, believes that this technology is already readily available. “The DOT has a lot of real-time data on the operating conditions of state highways and secondary roads, and it wants to make sure the data is of value to carriers,” Cantor said. The problem then becomes what is the best way to transmit this information to truck drivers?

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crosswalk-1532024The amount of pedestrians injured or killed as the result of a vehicular accident each year is enormous. Even when pedestrians use crosswalks and sidewalks, they are in danger of serious injury or death, often at the hands of careless or distracted drivers. For instance, a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that 4,700 people were killed in pedestrian related traffic accidents in 2013, with another 150,000 suffering some form of injury.

Unfortunately, pedestrian fatalities have continued to rise since then; there were 5,376 pedestrian accident deaths reported in the United States in 2015. Many of the victims happen to be children. The troubling number of pedestrian deaths has lawmakers and safety regulators searching for new and improved ways to prevent these tragic incidents.

Recently, a pedestrian was struck and killed in a hit and run accident in Tampa, Florida. The crash occurred in the early morning hours when a commercial dump truck hit a pedestrian who was walking down the street around 5:40 a.m. After striking the pedestrian, the trucker fled the scene. Witnesses assisted Tampa police in describing the trucker, and police were able to use that information to find and arrest him shortly thereafter.

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In the United States, on average, eight people are killed and over 1,000 are injured every day in collisions that reportedly involve a distracted driver. Each person that engages in a distracting activity while driving, including the use of a cell phone, puts the lives of others on the road at risk.

This risk greatly increases when the distracted driver is operating a large vehicle, such as a semi-trailer truck. The weight and size of most semi-trailer trucks not only make them harder to stop, but also increase the likelihood that serious injury or death will occur if they are involved in a collision with a much smaller car or pedestrian.

A recent truck accident settlement reached in a federal court case in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina could encourage companies that own semi-trailer trucks to ban their drivers from using cell phones or other distracting devices while operating their vehicles. The settlement in question arose from an incident involving a semi-trailer truck that struck the back of a couple’s vehicle as they slowed to turn into their driveway. Phone records indicated that the driver of the semi-trailer truck was talking on his cell phone at the time of the accident. As a result of the collision, the couple filed suit against Unifi Inc., a North Carolina-based company that owned the semi-trailer truck.

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This winter, two were killed and more than a dozen were injured when a tanker truck skidded off of an icy Baltimore, Maryland highway and then exploded. All of this occurred on Interstate 95 on December 17, 2016. Earlier that morning, the National Weather Service had issued a freezing rain advisory and warned of slippery roads. Unfortunately, the tanker truck accident wasn’t the only crash that morning on Interstate 95. Related to the truck running off the interstate was a pileup that ended up affecting 55 cars. A total of 15 people were taken to the hospital with injuries. The interstate was shut down for hours as authorities responded and took control of the scene.

While wintry weather is something all drivers must pay adequate attention to, drivers of commercial trucks and 18-wheelers must pay particularly close attention. Trucking companies are required to properly train their drivers to handle inclement weather conditions. Part 392 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations states “extreme caution” is required in wintry weather situations, which include snow, ice, and sleet that affect a driver’s visibility or traction. For example, heavy trucks traveling too fast can easily skid when they encounter ice. This could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle and run off the road or strike another car. When a driver encounters dangerous conditions, the federal trucking regulations first direct the driver to reduce speed. If conditions persist or worsen, the driver should discontinue use of the vehicle until the weather improves and the vehicle can be safely operated.

Icy weather could cause a truck to jackknife. As part of continuing truck driver education, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides five tips for commercial truck drivers who may find themselves in bad weather while behind the wheel.

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Most people appreciate that in today’s society we can walk into a Walmart, Best Buy, or Kroger and buy almost anything we need or want.  The trucking industry has been extremely powerful in helping businesses succeed as well as helping our economy thrive, but we have to remember that with great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, the irresponsible actions of truck drivers and their companies can turn the trucking industry from one that businesses and consumers love, into an industry that ruins countless amounts of lives.

Distracted driving is one of the ways the trucking industry’s irresponsible actions can lead to deadly results. This occurs when a truck driver is engaged in other activities such as texting, surfing the Internet, talking on the phone, or looking up directions. These activities take the driver’s attention away from the road. It is bad enough when any driver is distracted, but when the driver of a semi-truck is not focused, the negative impact can be considerably worse due to the size and weight of commercial vehicles.

In May 2016, the driver of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 71 traveling through Verona, Kentucky caused an accident by crossing the median and striking two vehicles head on.  One of the drivers died at the scene, and the other was severely injured. Deputies of Boone County found strong evidence suggesting that the truck driver was texting at the time of the accident. The truck driver even tried to delete the messages before the authorities confiscated his phone, but all of the messages were recovered. Spoliation of evidence is taken very seriously by law enforcement authorities, judges, and juries.