No matter the vehicle someone drives, they should always be attentive and aware while behind the wheel. Whether the driver was texting, eating, playing with the radio, or trying to break up a backseat fight between children, it all counts as distraction, and it is all dangerous.

There is an extra layer of danger when the distracted driver in question is driving a tractor trailer. Tractor-trailers and semi-trucks are not only easier to overturn, they are also a great deal larger and stronger than passenger vehicles. Because of a truck’s sheer size, a collision is much likelier to severely hurt or kill the other party. For example, Tennessee lost around 1,200 people to motor vehicle accidents in 2020. Of those 1,200, 67% of victims were in passenger vehicles (812), but only 2% (28) were passengers in large trucks. When trucks are involved in accidents, the drivers are not usually the casualties.

Despite this, truckers everywhere continue to participate in unsafe, distracted driving practices. They spend long hours entirely alone on the roads, and when that is paired with the exhaustion that comes with the job, it can lead to carelessness. The most common cause of distracted truck driving is texting, followed by:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking on the phone
  • Toying with the radio
  • Staring or programming the GPS
  • Lighting a cigarette
  • Reading a map or any other written item, like an address

Some truckers even watch videos while driving.

While these behaviors may be borne from unfair employers and expectations, or from the same type of boredom that all drivers can experience when they’re traveling long distances or dealing with traffic, that is only an explanation — not an excuse. Remember, big-rigs and semis often have large amounts of cargo with them. It could be anything from chickens to hazardous materials to cement; if it spills in a crash or rollover, it creates a new danger for every single person on the road.

Laws and new technology help fight distracted truck driving in Tennessee

Texting is the most common reason for distracted driving in general. While advances in speech-to-text technology have made it easier to avoid this particular vice, many people still choose to take their hand (and their eyes) off the wheel to type a reply. Because of how dangerous texting and driving is, Tennessee has a specific law outlining cell phone use in a vehicle. This law states it is illegal for any driver to:

  1. hold a cellphone or mobile device with any part of their body,
  2. write, send, or read any text-based communication,
  3. reach for a cellphone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt,
  4. watch a video or movie on a cellphone or mobile device, and
  5. record or broadcast video on a cellphone or mobile device.

Truckers are not exempt. However, given how hard it can be to enforce when they are constantly on the move (and high up — officers cannot window-check as easily), newer technology may help remove the temptation entirely. A California-based company is working on a device called NoCell, which is specifically designed to reduce phone-centric distracted driving in truckers. It works by temporarily restricting a user’s access to a customizable list of apps (such as texting or internet apps) whenever the phone is in the cab of a truck. This device (which plugs into the phone) would not restrict access to necessary apps like the GPS, but it completely removes the temptation for the most crucial attention-takers.

As revolutionary as this product could be, it is still incredibly new to the market. Until it does, many trucking companies will need to rely on technology such as:

  • Electronic logging devices, or ELDs, which monitor speed and driving schedules
  • Front-facing cameras to monitor drivers, which are a cause of much controversy among drivers
  • Collision avoidance software, available in newer trucks but expensive to retrofit
  • Calls from the general public, if the truck has a “How’s my driving?” sticker

Even with most of these options, truckers everywhere still have unfettered access to the number one thing they use to ignore the road. Those who drive standard passenger vehicles should make sure they are as alert as possible behind the wheel so they can notice any suspicious driving around them.

Why working with a Sevierville truck accident lawyer can help

If a distracted truck driver does hit you and causes serious, life-threatening or changing injuries, you have options. It can be especially difficult to pin down liability in a truck accident because multiple parties may be involved, which is why you need an experienced personal injury attorney to work on your behalf while you focus on yourself. Your lawyer will examine police reports, pictures of the accident, phone records, and everything even possibly associated with your case to prove the truck driver was distracted behind the wheel. If your case prevails, the responsible party(ies) will have to pay compensation for your damages, which includes medical expenses, lost wages, and other and losses associated with your injuries.

Truckers have a long list of regulations to follow and safety precautions they must take to be legal on the road; victims can hold drivers and trucking companies accountable when recklessness causes catastrophic injuries. The trucking companies will definitely have representation, so you would do well to hire an attorney, too.

The Sevierville personal injury attorneys at Delius & McKenzie, PLLC have years and years of experience getting victims the justice they deserve after reckless drivers caused their injuries. We keep you in the loop while also giving you the space you need to rest, and representation you can trust. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 865-428-8780 or use our contact form. Our office is in Sevierville, and we serve clients throughout the region, including in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Seymour.