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San Jose truck crash lawyerAny driver who is distracted by his or her cell phone poses an injury risk to other people on the road, but a distracted truck driver can be especially dangerous. A semi-truck traveling at 55 miles per hour can take more than 5 seconds to come to a complete stop, but sending a text message can remove a driver’s attention from the road for at least this long, so a distracted truck driver may not even have the opportunity to start slowing down before a serious collision occurs. For this reason, cell phone use is strictly regulated for truck drivers throughout the U.S.

Cell Phone Regulations For Commercial Truck Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits truck drivers from not just sending and reading text messages and other electronic communication while driving, but all handheld cell phone use. This includes holding a phone while making a call, dialing that requires pressing more than one button, and reaching for a phone. Drivers who violate these restrictions can be fined up to $2,750 and disqualified from driving, and truck driver employers who fail to enforce these restrictions can be fined up to $11,000. Handheld cell phone use while driving is also a violation of California law in most cases, and can result in a fine of at least $20 for a first offense and $50 for additional offenses.

Pursuing Compensation from a Texting Truck Driver

These regulations and penalties may prevent many truck accidents, but if you are injured by a truck driver who was distracted by a cell phone, you can file a personal injury claim to further hold the driver accountable and pursue compensation for your damages. It is not always easy to demonstrate that a driver was distracted, but an attorney can help you collect crucial evidence that potentially includes camera footage of the accident, police reports, and the driver’s phone records.

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Santa Clara County personal injury attorney truck accident

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of people injured and killed in accidents involving large trucks has risen significantly in recent years. The primary danger is not to the truck drivers themselves, but to the occupants of the other involved vehicles, who account for over 70 percent of the annual fatalities. Truck accidents are dangerous not only because of the vehicles’ large size but also because of the heavy loads they carry. When those loads are not properly secured, they can lead to accidents in a number of ways.

How Unsecured Cargo Loads Cause Accidents in California

Semi-trucks are built to haul heavy weight, but in order to do so safely, they must be loaded properly with their cargo fully secured. When loose cargo shifts in transit, accidents often result because of one of the following reasons:

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San Jose trucking accident lawyersThe trucking industry is absolutely essential to the flow of goods across the United States. An estimated 80 percent of U.S. cargo is transported by hard-working men and women who drive tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and other large trucks. Driving a semi-truck across the country can a tedious and isolating job. Truck drivers are expected to endure harsh road and weather conditions, long periods of time away from family and friends, and erratic sleep schedules. Unfortunately, some truck drivers turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the strenuousness of their job. Considering how destructive truck accidents can be, the prevalence of drug and alcohol use in truck drivers is extremely concerning.

Fatal Truck Accidents on the Rise

The same features that make 18-wheelers and other large trucks so useful for transportation make them deadly during a traffic accident. A large truck cannot maneuver through traffic the way an averaged sized vehicle can. If a stalled vehicle suddenly blocks the road ahead, for example, cars may have enough time to dodge the stalled vehicle or come to a stop. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer takes approximately 20-40 percent farther to come to a stop than a small car does. This difference in stopping time can mean the difference between life and death. Data shows that there were just under 4000 fatalities caused by truck crashes in 2016. This number represents a 27 percent increase from the number of fatalities in 2009.  

Half of Truck Drivers Admit to Drinking and Driving

In an extensive worldwide study of truck drivers published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, it was found that half of truck drivers admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol. Nearly one-third of truck drivers surveyed admitted to using amphetamines. When participants in the study were tested for drugs and alcohol, 12.5 percent of U.S. truck drivers tested positive for alcohol. Although many truck drivers are already required to submit to drug testing, many people are advocating for stricter rules regarding truck driver drug and alcohol use. If a truck driver causes a serious auto accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she can be held liable for the damages caused.

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San Jose truck accident attorneyDriving an 18-wheeler truck or tractor-trailer is not an easy job. Often, drivers are expected to drive hundreds of miles a day and deal with stresses like traffic congestion, detours, and other slowdowns which make their days even longer. Unfortunately, this leads to many drivers being chronically exhausted and sleep-deprived. Some truck drivers end up taking stimulants just to stay awake and drive. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in an accident involving a fatigued or otherwise incapacitated truck driver, you may be able to get financial compensation for your losses.

Studies Show Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Truck Accidents

In a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it was found that approximately 13 percent of serious crashes involving large trucks are caused by driver fatigue. Other factors which contributed to serious truck accidents include driver drug use, including both legal and illegal drugs, inattention to the road, and driver illness. Truck drivers are often operating vehicles that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. A vehicle of this size can do cause colossal damage during a crash.

Truck Drivers Must Follow Certain Rules Regarding Sleep and Rest

Because sleepy truck drivers are such a threat to motorists’ safety, there are certain state and federal regulations which dictate how many hours truck drivers can drive in a given time period. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to take regular breaks to rest. A driver who is not following these federal guidelines may be considered negligent and liable for damages caused by an accident. Truck drivers must record the hours that they drove and when they rested in a log book. These log books are often crucial pieces of evidence during in a personal injury lawsuit against a truck driver or trucking company.

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San Jose truck accidents, San Jose, CA truck accident attorneyMassive 18-wheeled big rigs dominate our nation's roadways. These overpowering vehicles drive our nation’s economy while also overpowering all other vehicles on the main highways and city streets. The sheer size and momentum brought forth by these vehicles makes them an intimidating force when traveling next to a non-commercial vehicle. Additionally, in certain cases, truck drivers leave a devastating wake behind them full of destruction and heartache for those unfortunate enough to cross their paths. Even with a recent decline in fatalities due to truck accidents, far too many families suffer at the hands of drivers who negligently operate their machinery.

Statistics

Due to ongoing investigations from two previous years, the most up-to-date and conclusive information available is 2014. Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) only began in 1975, making most of the information available relatively new, but still useful in witnessing trends. Some of the most alarming statistics from recent years include the following:

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While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with the attorney, please call at 408-293-7777 or complete the intake form below.

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John J. Garvey, III
10 Almaden Blvd, #1220
San Jose, CA 95113
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