In recent years, distracted driving has become a serious threat to public safety. Each year, driver distraction is responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths – all of which were entirely preventable. As states throughout the nation have recognized the horrific dangers distracted driving creates, numerous organizations and jurisdictions have adopted regulations and laws to reduce distracted driving accidents.
Currently, Texas remains one of the few U.S. states without a statewide ban on texting and cell phone use for all drivers. Although Texas may be sluggish in recognizing the importance of these safety laws, the state has enacted several laws that target distracted driving and commercial vehicles. These state laws include:
- Ban on all cell phone use, including handheld and hands-free for bus drivers.
- Ban on texting for bus drivers.
Given the fact that commercial vehicles – including large, freight-bearing trucks and passenger carrying vehicles – have such an overwhelming potential to cause injury and death during traffic accidents, precautionary measures are of the utmost importance. Along with state laws, there have been new efforts to directly target distracted driving for commercial drivers who engage in interstate travel.
DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS AND COMMERCIAL VEHICLES
As part of a joint effort between the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, there has been a number of explicit laws created to prevent interstate truck and bus drivers – as well as drivers who transport hazardous materials – from driving distracted. According to the Department of Transportation, these laws are intended to substantially reduce the serious risks created by distracted commercial drivers. Important laws include:
- Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) are prohibited from texting while driving.
- CMV drivers are restricted from unsafely reaching for, holding, or pressing more than a single button on a mobile phone while driving. CMV drivers, depending on state laws, may be permitted to operate a hands-free phone if it is legal in that state and if the device is located in close proximity.
- Drivers who are caught in violation of these rules can be subject to sanctions – including penalties of up to $2,750 – and disqualifications for multiple offenses. Companies that require or allow drivers to text or use cell phones while driver may also face penalties for violations, including up to $11,000 in fines.
According to the FMCSA, these laws are crucial to reducing crash risks. In fact, the FMCSA reports that CMV drivers who text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a safety critical event (crash, near-crash, or unintentional lane deviation) than drivers who do not text. The odds of being involved in a safety-critical event for CMV drivers who dial a mobile phone are six times greater than those who don’t.
As the statistics reveal, distracted driving – in any form – is dangerous to others on the road. For victims who have been injured in Austin truck accidents or bus accidents caused by a distracted driver, there are legal avenues in place for them to obtain justice and compensation for their losses. To learn more about filing an injury claim for a commercial vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver, contact an Austin truck accident lawyer from the Loewy Law Firm by calling (512) 920-5533 or requesting your free case evaluation.