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Distracted Driving Truck Accident Lawyers

Commercial truck drivers have a higher duty of care than regular drivers to drive safely because of the size and weight of their vehicles. Unfortunately, truck drivers sometimes drive irresponsibly, causing many severe and fatal accidents nationwide.

Driver distraction is a particular problem with truckers, and the consequences of texting and driving or engaging in other distractions behind the wheel can be deadly. If you or your loved one was injured recently by a negligent truck driver, the distracted driving truck lawyers at Nix Patterson could help you obtain compensation for your injuries and other losses.

Why Is Distracted Truck Driving Dangerous?

Distracted driving is always dangerous, regardless of who is driving. But a distracted truck driver is worse because the vehicle’s size and weight can cause severe damage and injuries to others in an accident. It takes much longer for a fully-loaded commercial truck to slow down and change direction, so the dangers of distracted driving are magnified.

For example, a regular passenger vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds takes approximately 315 feet to stop from 65 MPH. But a fully-loaded semi-truck weighing 80,000 pounds takes almost 525 feet to stop from 65 MPH. That much longer distance to stop a tractor-trailer significantly increases the possibility of an accident when driving distracted. Imagine, for example, a trucker texting and driving at 65 MPH on the interstate. If there traffic ahead and he is delayed in slowing down by just one or two seconds, there could be a terrifying and deadly rear-end collision with one or more smaller vehicles.

Furthermore, brake lag is another factor with big rigs. These large trucks have different brakes than the typical passenger car. Most cars, trucks, and SUVs feature hydraulic brakes, which use liquid to stop the vehicle quickly. But commercial trucks usually have air brakes that take longer to deploy. When the trucker applies the brake, air must build up and reach every part of the truck, then the brakes function. This delay means it is even more critical for truckers to always pay attention to their driving and scan the road for slowed traffic.

Semi-truck drivers should know that distracted driving greatly increases the chances of causing a crash that causes severe or fatal injuries, but many do it regardless.

Types of Distracted Driving by Truck Drivers

Distracted driving behaviors usually are in three categories for all drivers: cognitive, visual, and manual. Truck drivers should always be proactive, pay attention to the road, and not do anything behind the wheel that risks public safety. While most states have banned texting and using a handheld phone while driving, truckers must be aware of other potential driver distractions.

A cognitive distraction happens when the trucker might still be looking at the road, but they are not there mentally. Driver fatigue and daydreaming could make them unaware of what is happening in front of them. When cognitively distracted, they could drift into the next lane or blow through a stop sign. Many rear-end wrecks happen because of cognitive distraction.

Some common visual distractions are texting, changing the radio, grabbing something from the floor or seat, or looking at the GPS. A visual distraction removes the trucker’s eyes from the road, allowing more time for accidents. For instance, the driver could look away from the road to text and miss a stop sign or red light. Or they could miss seeing a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

A manual distraction means taking one or both hands from the wheel to do something in the truck cab. Truckers’ most common manual distractions are eating, drinking, adjusting the seat, and smoking. Manual driver distractions can increase the chances of an accident by as much as 800%.

How Can You Determine Distracted Truck Driving?

If you suspect a truck driver was distracted in the crash that injured you, tell your Nix Patterson personal injury attorney immediately. Your attorney can take several actions to investigate the potentially distracted driver:

  • Hire accident reconstruction experts to show how the crash happened. The reconstruction can reveal evidence of driver distraction, such as delayed braking, by identifying and measuring skid marks.
  • Speak to eyewitnesses. They might have witnessed dangerous behavior, such as the driver texting while driving.
  • Obtain security footage. If it’s available, it might prove the driver was distracted when the accident happened.
  • Review the cab’s black box data recorder to check if the driver was inattentive before the accident. The data recorder is with the carrier, so your attorney can send a spoliation letter requesting that all data related to the accident be preserved.
  • Subpoena phone records. This will be able to prove if the driver was using his phone at the time of the accident.

Liability for a Trucking Distracted Driving Crash

When a truck accident involves a distracted driver, several parties could be held liable for injuries and damages. In most situations, the truck driver or trucking company that employs them will be held responsible. If the carrier employs the truck driver, the employer could be vicariously liable for the driver’s negligent actions. However, if the trucker is a self-employed contractor, you may only be able to sue the driver directly.

Your Nix Patterson truck accident attorney will carefully review the accident and determine all potential liable parties. In many states, you can still collect compensation in a lawsuit even if you were partially responsible for the accident. For instance, suppose you were speeding when a distracted trucker hit your vehicle. In many states, you can still be compensated if your liability for the accident does not exceed 50%.

Federal Penalties for Trucker Distracted Driving

A distracted truck driver who causes an accident can be sued by the injured party in civil court, but the potential consequences for the trucker don’t end there. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) takes distracted truck driving seriously, and penalties for drivers caught while driving distracted include:

  • A fine of up to $2,750.
  • Repeated distracted driving offenses can lead to the trucker’s license being suspended for up to 120 days.
  • The carrier can be fined as much as $11,000 if they allow drivers to use handheld devices when driving.
  • Distracted driving violations can affect the trucking company’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) ratings.
  • Distracted driving citations are considered ‘serious traffic violations’ by the FMCSA.

Contact Our Distracted Driving Truck Accident Lawyers Today

Distracted driving is always hazardous, but the danger is magnified when the vehicle is a monstrous tractor-trailer weighing up to 80,000 pounds. There’s no excuse for a truck driver not paying strict attention to the road, and if they cause a crash while distracted, they should be held accountable.

The personal injury attorneys at Nix Patterson have a strong record of obtaining settlements from negligent truckers and their employers. Please contact our distracted driving truck accident lawyers for a complimentary consultation, and remember that you pay no legal fees unless we win.


Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below. 

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