By now, you’ve probably heard about the two pilots for Delta Air Lines who have been dismissed after they overshot their destination by 150 miles due, supposedly, to them being distracted by their laptops. Fortunately, no serious incident occurred and the plane landed safely in Minneapolis-St. Paul. FAA regulations prohibit the use of laptops in the cockpit for this very reason and more deadly incidents are prevented because of these stricter rules.
This is not so on our roadways. Every year, thousands of people die in car accidents and tractor trailer crashes caused by distracted drivers who were talking on a cell phone or playing with some other electronic device. While some individual states and cities have taken the lead on reducing the distractions by banning cell phones while driving, in most areas there are no such laws and seeing someone multi-tasking when they should simply be driving is a regular occurrence.
The dangers are multiplied for tractor trailer drivers who have to maintain control of vehicles stretching dozens of feet long and weighing thousands of pounds. Yet still, even commercial truck drivers are regularly guilty of losing focus on the road because they are talking or texting and sometimes this has fatal consequences. One of the larger tractor trailer crashes in the St. Louis area occurred on Highway 40 last year when a truck driver, apparently distracted by his cell phone, plowed through ten other cars that were stopped for traffic. Three people were killed and more were seriously injured.
Despite tragic incidents like the Highway 40 crash, the FMCSA has not completely banned the use of cell phones or other electronic distractions by tractor trailer drivers while driving. In fact, many big rig drivers regularly use on-board computers to update their company of their progress and track their routes.
Studies have repeatedly shown that these types of distractions are dangerous. Drivers using those on-board computers are approximately ten times more likely to be involved in a crash. Texting drivers are 23 times as likely to crash. Even drivers who use hands-free phones have been proven to be as impaired as drunken drivers.
Drivers and their companies that continue these negligent policies of allowing distractions in the cabin must be held accountable when those same distractions result in serious accidents. If you or a family member has been involved in such a crash, contact an experienced Missouri tractor trailer accident attorney as soon as possible so that they can begin to investigate your case.