A new study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute confirms what many Missouri truck accident attorneys have known for ages: Text messaging substantially raises a semi truck driver’s chance of a serious accident. According to an article published by the New York Times July 27, the VTTI found that text messaging by truckers raised the chances of a crash or a near-crash by 23 times. The director of the study told the Times that even compared to other driver distractions, texting “is in its own universe of risk.” Tom Dingus, who heads the institute, said he believed the study showed that texting while driving should be illegal.
To gather its data, the institute placed cameras in the cabs of tractor-trailers for 18-month periods, then watched to see what drivers were doing right before a crash or near-miss. They found that when drivers sent or received a text message, they took their eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. According to the Times, that’s enough time for a truck traveling at highway speeds to drive across an entire football field. The study did not look at texting among drivers of passenger vehicles, but the authors said the results can be generalized to all drivers because truckers’ driving behaviors aren’t substantially different. Preliminary results from another VTTI study on texting, this one focusing on teenaged drivers, show similar results, as do studies from other laboratories, notably the University of Utah.
As a St. Louis tractor-trailer accident lawyer, I am disturbed by these results. A big rig crash at highway speeds can do severe damage to any smaller vehicle that happens to be in the way. For the driver and passengers in that vehicle, that means wrongful death or catastrophic injuries, including severe burns and brain damage. With the risks so high, I believe it’s unacceptable for truck drivers to have their eyes off the road long enough to travel the length of a football field — or any longer than necessary to do their jobs. Dingus may be right that nobody should text and drive, but given the havoc a trucking accident can wreak on innocent bystanders’ lives, it’s especially important for drivers of large trucks.
Carey, Danis & Lowe represents people involved in 18-wheeler accidents throughout Missouri and southern Illinois. Our Belleville, Ill., semi truck crash lawyers help victims and their families hold irresponsible truckers and trucking companies legally responsible for the accidents and injuries they cause. We are all too aware that a lawsuit cannot reverse the accident, but it can help families deal with some of the damaging medical and financial results. In a truck crash lawsuit, victims can claim the money they need to pay their medical bills, including future bills; replace a temporarily or permanently lost income; and be fairly compensated for the permanent loss of an ability or a loved one.
If someone you love was seriously hurt by a large truck and you’d like to learn more about your options, you are invited to call the Lowe Law Firm for help. To arrange a free consultation, you can reach us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400 or contact us online.