Truck accidents: Driver distraction a growing problem

In King County the sight of a commercial truck is a common one, especially since there are two major interstates that cut through the Seattle area. Due to their size, these big rigs can cause a lot of damage when they are involved in a truck accident and it is important for the drivers of these commercial vehicles to eliminate the risk of accident for others on the road around them.

Driver distraction in truckers

Earlier this year, a trucker on a busy interstate killed two people and injured two others when he passed out after choking on food according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The tractor trailer drifted through the lanes, hitting two vehicles, crashing through the center divide guardrail and colliding with a car traveling in the opposite direction.

The accident is a reminder that distracted driving is becoming a problem for commercial truck drivers. In 2009, a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made a number of recommendations to fleet managers in order to reduce this behavior. These recommendations include:

•· Disuse of dispatching devices

•· No reading or looking at maps

•· Changes to design of instrument panels

•· Drivers refrain from texting

•· Further education for truck drivers on distractive behaviors

•· Stronger policies relating to in-vehicle devices such as calculators

The study states that in 2007 alone, over 4,000 people were killed in truck accidents and commercial trucks were involved in 413,000 accidents on America's roads. The majority of people who died in these collisions were in passenger vehicles.

Distracted driving underreported

According to CDL Life, the actual numbers of distracted driving may be far higher than previously known. A study recently done by the National Safety Council points out that several factors have interfered with the accuracy of statistical reports across the nation. These factors include errors made on law enforcement reports and drivers failing to admit that they were distracted when the accident occurred.

While the study does not mention commercial trucks specifically, it may be likely that the failure to report distraction also occurs in reports involving truckers and accidents. The study, which centered on cell phone use, found that little more than half of accidents which involved a cell phone were assigned that code.

The reality

Truck drivers who become distracted have the ability to inflict serious injuries and death on those around them. When a victim is injured in a truck accident, they face a number of challenges such as medical expenses, the emotional and psychological trauma of being in an accident, physical property damage to their vehicle, and months of recovery or permanent disability.

If you are injured because of a distracted truck driver, you should discuss your case with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you understand what your legal rights are and assist you in determining and obtaining proper compensation.