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Federal rules limit truck driver cell phone use, texting

Last week's post discussed a tragic accident where a North Carolina resident died on account of a distracted driver. Unfortunately, this accident was not the first time that a distracted driver on North Carolina's roadways has left a person seriously injured or dead, nor is it likely to be the last.

The dangers of distracted driving are enhanced when it comes to commercial vehicles, like large trucks. The size and maneuverability of these vehicles makes it more likely that a distracted truck driver will not recover from a moment of distraction to prevent an imminent collision. Moreover, a truck will likely inflict extensive damage to whatever it hits.

Fortunately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates long-haul truckers that cross state lines, has issued strict rules prohibiting a driver from texting while driving. As many Cary residents could probably guess, texting is a common cause of distracted driving.

Texting has a broad definition under the Administration's rules. Basically, a trucker and trucking company can face substantial fines if a driver is caught punching keys on his or her phone, even if the driver was not technically communicating with anyone. On a related point, the rules also prohibits drivers from using a handheld cell phone.

Trucking companies under the Administration's jurisdiction can be fined, if they tolerate their employees' texting or using a phone while driving. For habitual offenses, individual drivers may even lose the privilege of driving a commercial vehicle. Moreover, those who have been injured by distracted truck drivers can seek compensation for their injuries.

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John McCabe wrote "The Investigation and Analysis of Personal Injury Cases" in the best-selling book Personal Injury Practice in North Carolina. This is the book that other lawyers follow in handling personal injury cases.

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