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Distracted truck driver kills officer while browsing his cellphone

Posted in Truck Accident on Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Operating a tractor trailer takes great skill, concentration and focus. When truck drivers are engaged in other activities, however, the results can become fatal. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers are banned from texting and driving. Federal law also prohibits commercial truck drivers from using handheld cellular devices to conduct voice communications while driving. Despite the laws that have been enacted in an attempt to reduce driver distraction, some truck drivers continue to use their cellphones while driving.

An Arizona captain from the Department of Public Safety was recently killed while writing a report in his patrol vehicle along an Arizona highway, as reported by the Huffington Post. A truck driver, who was watching videos and searching through social media websites, collided with the officer’s vehicle while going 65 mph. The officer was pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver faces 13 counts of endangerment, one count of second-degree murder and six counts of criminal damage. Although the man pleaded not guilty to causing the fatal crash, his dashboard camera has recorded the entire event.

Study shows the dangers of distracted truck drivers

A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute analyzed how distractive behaviors affect truck drivers’ ability to operate large commercial vehicles. They found:

  • Reaching for or using an electronic device increased the risk of collision by 6.7 times when compared to a non-distracted driver.
  • Dialing on a cellphone increased the risk of collision by 5.9 times when compared to a non-distracted driver.
  • Texting on a cellphone increased the risk of collision by 23.2 times when compared to a non-distracted driver.

The study also measured how long drivers took their eyes off of the road while they were using their cellphones. Researchers found that preceding a collision, drivers’ eyes were diverted from the road for approximately five seconds.

Distracted truck drivers

For truck drivers who spend the majority of their time on the open road, distractions are everywhere. Many new trucks come equipped with laptops, which enable drivers to conduct business during their downtime. Although it is illegal to use computers while driving, some truck drivers try to multi-task while they are behind the wheel, which can lead to a truck accident.

Commercial vehicle drivers who are trying to pass time during a long drive may entertain themselves with phone games and videos. What may seem like harmless tasks, including changing a CD or picking up an item off of the floor, can be deadly as well.

With their high profiles, excessive lengths and extra hefty weight loads, tractor trailers pose a significant threat to unsuspecting motorists on the road. The situation can become fatal if the truck driver is driving while distracted.

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