The image of an 80,000 pound big-rig rolling toward you on the highway at a speed of sixty miles per hour as the driver fiddles with his cell phone is a terrifying notion. Although a nationwide ban on handheld cell phone use by commercial drivers of buses and tractor-trailers went into effect last year, the danger of big-rig accidents caused by distracted truck drivers persists. These semi-truck collisions are a product of both commercial drivers disregarding the ban and shortcomings of the anti-cell phone rule. Because our Fulton County trucking accident lawyers are all too familiar with the consequences of multi-tasking behind the wheel of a massive big-rig, we welcome the possibility of a broader ban on all use of electronic devices by commercial drivers.
The rule enacted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibited all handheld use of mobile phones by those operating commercial trucks and buses. However, the law did not restrict commercial drivers from using hands-free cell phones with a wired or Bluetooth device. Drivers who violate this ban face exposure of a fine up to $2,750 for each violation and disqualification for repeat violations. Commercial carriers that look the other way and permit drivers to use handheld cell phones are subject to a maximum fine of $11,000.
The rules were aimed at limiting cell phones as distractions for commercial truck drivers because mobile phones poses a serious risk of collisions for all motorists. Cell phone calling and texting involves a driver’s vision, mental focus and hands simultaneously, which makes it particularly dangerous when operating a fully loaded forty ton big-rig. A study conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that drivers who are texting divert their eyes from the roadway for almost five seconds when reading or sending a text message. Based on this data, a truck driver who sends a text while traveling at a speed of 55 miles per hour covers the length of a football field while essentially blindfolded.
Because the law does not target other uses for cell phones beyond texting or talking and permits continued use of hands-free phones, truck drivers distracted by cell phones continue to pose a serious risk to other vehicle occupants. Studies consistently indicate that hands-free use of cell phones is no safer than handheld use of cell phones. Researchers and traffic safety experts attribute the ineffectiveness of hands-free only restrictions to the impact on mental focus caused by carrying on a mobile phone conversation. Our Atlanta tractor-trailer accident attorneys support the suggestion by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of a global ban on electronic devices, especially when driving large commercial trucks.
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If you or a family member is injured in a Georgia trucking accident, our Atlanta truck accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing injury victims for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.