Distracted driving is a nationwide problem, including in Louisiana. When distracted drivers are Commercial Motor Vehicle operators, the consequences of accidents involving big rigs and passenger vehicles are often catastrophic. Truckers travel across state lines. Although different states have their standards for safe driving, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules apply to all.
Distracted driving definition
The FMCSA’s definition of distracted driving is simple. When it comes to cell phones, truck drivers may not reach, hold, dial, text or read mobile phones. However, dispatch equipment and devices used as part of fleet management are allowed, although not for texting. Reportedly, the risk of crashing while texting is 23 times higher than when not texting.
Definition of texting
According to the FMCSA regulations, texting is anything that involves manual entering of alphanumeric text or reading text on an electronic device. Prohibited actions include the pressing of two or more buttons to terminate or initiate a call as well as sending texts on mobile phones and dispatching devices.
Definition of mobile device use
Although hands-free devices are allowed, they must be located close to the truck driver. Prohibited mobile device use includes the following:
- Using one or two hands to hold the cell phone while using it
- Pressing more than one single button on the phone
- Reaching for the device in a way that requires the driver to change a normal, seated driving position and remove the seat belt.
The only exception to this rule is when the driver contacts law enforcement or makes an emergency call.
Potential consequences of distracted driving
Unfortunately, occupants of smaller vehicles who are victims of distracted driver truck accidents typically suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries. When that happens in Louisiana, injured victims and the surviving family members of those who lost their lives could pursue financial relief. Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are allowed if there is proof of the CMV driver’s negligence.