We all have done it at one time or another; our phones buzz or ding indicating a text message has been received and for some reason we have to read it and respond at that moment despite driving 55 miles per hour on the highway in fairly steady traffic. We see other drivers with their eyes on their iPhones instead of the road ahead and we all think “what a jerk,” and then two minutes later Jimmy is texting that he needs to be picked up from soccer practice NOW and “where are you mom?” And we feel compelled to respond so Jimmy knows we are not neglecting him (the line at Starbucks was just longer than usual for this time of day.)
And while perhaps this scenario seems a little humorous and close to home, the fact remains that it can also be devastating. According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million car crashes a year and 330,000 injuries. Further, texting while driving is six times more likely to cause a crash than drunk driving.
We all agree that texting and driving is a dangerous and reckless activity and most people tend to agree that as responsible drivers, we should never do it, and certainly when we see someone else on the road texting or talking on a cell phone, we often become angry and outraged. How dare that woman put us all at risk?! And then we are asked “where are you? When will you be home?” from the wife/husband/kids who we know are freaking out because dinner is getting cold so we feel compelled to respond.
With staggering statistics and an obvious danger to ourselves and others on the road, it’s time to put our phones away when we’re driving. Many drivers are distracted by just knowing that a text message has come across their phone. There are several ways to prevent this distraction including switching the phone to “Airplane” mode, turning it off completely, or downloading apps that send messages to would be texters and callers that you are driving. iPhone recently added this capability in the last IOS update and Samsung users have already had this option. It’s time we use them.
When a distracted driver causes a crash and injures someone that we love, we are understandably angry because they “should know better” and should have followed the rules. In order to keep our communities and our roadways safe for everyone, it is important for all of us to commit to follow the same rules. Let’s put our phones away – that text can wait.
For more information on safe driving laws in your state, visit: http://www.ghsa.org/state-laws/issues/Distracted-Driving
Drivers of commercial vehicles like tractor-trailers are required to take special care on the roadways to protect themselves as well as other vehicles on the road. When a driver of a commercial truck does not follow safety rules and injures occur, that driver and the company for which he/she works is responsible for that injury.
Large trucks are involved in thousands of crashes that kill or cause serious injury to people every year. If you have been involved in a wreck with a commercial truck where you were in no way at fault, there is a good chance you are entitled to compensation.
There are many factors that cause accidents and fatal crashes on our roadways and highways.
Truck Drivers have Standards and Regulations They Must Follow.
The trucking industry is very heavily regulated in order to protect truck drivers and other drivers on the road. Tractor trailer drivers must follow special precautions and rules when on the roadways in order to ensure the safety of everyone on the road.
Despite these heavily regulated standards, large trucks are involved in thousands of crashes that kill or cause serious injury to people every year. If the safety standards established by the national and statewide departments of transportation are not followed, and as a result another driver is injured, the truck driver or the trucking company is responsible for any injuries that are caused.
5 BASIC SAFETY STANDARDS FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLES
1.Truck drivers are only allowed to drive a certain number of hours per day.
Tired truck drivers are a major cause of harmful and sometimes deadly truck crashes. Trucking companies must comply with the standard hours set to regulate driver safety. If a driver is permitted or forced to drive more than the regulated hours due to delivery deadlines and a crash occurs, the driver and trucking company can be held responsible.
2.Truck drivers are required to use "extreme caution" or stop driving during bad weather.
Bad or extreme weather can occur during any point of a truck driver’s route. The standards are set that the driver must slow down or stop driving in order to avoid losing control and crashing the vehicle. If a truck driver continues to operate in extreme weather such as heavy fog, snow storms, rain storms etc. without adjusting their driving speed and having caused injury, the truck driver and the trucking company can be held responsible.
3.Trucking companies are required to maintain and repair their trucks.
Defective brakes and tires and inadequate lighting are leading causes of major accidents involving trucks. Truck drivers and trucking companies are required to repair mechanical defects and maintain safe vehicles under the regulation standards. If these vehicle standards are ignored and trucks are not maintained they add to the chances of a serious accident occurring.
4.Cargo in or on a truck must be properly secured.
Cargo in or on a truck must be secured following the regulation standards set in order to ensure that trucks are safe from tipping or from spilling their cargo. Trucking companies that allow their trucks to go out on the road without correctly securing or balancing the load create a dangerous condition for drivers and can be held responsible for any injury their truck or cargo causes.
5.Truck drivers must park their trucks and trailers in safe designated areas.
Truck drivers who park their trucks and trailers in the path of moving traffic can cause deadly crashes. The standards require that a trucker must place warning triangles or a flagger to alert drivers who might come upon the unexpected obstacle in their path.
Standards and regulations for truck drivers are set up to establish safe driving conditions for everyone on the roads. Most truckers are professional drivers who follow these standards but unfortunately, some are irresponsible or inexperienced. Truckers must adhere to these standards and trucking companies must be selective in hiring drivers with a great driving record, committed to the professional standards and responsibility of driving these large vehicles.
All drivers must follow the rules of the road. If those rules are broken and an injury occurs, the driver who has broken those rules is responsible for the injuries that result.
We all try to adhere to these standards that are set up to keep all drivers safe. However, motor vehicles crashes happen every day because of drivers’ careless choices. Understanding what is at stake when you are injured by someone else in your car, you can make decisions that will make the process of recovering, both monetarily and physically, easier.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Auto Insurance companies do not play fair.
Auto Insurance carriers are supposed to pay benefits to injured motorists whether it is their insured who has been injured (UM/UIM) or if their insured injures someone else (Liability). Often, they deny the claim or undervalue the treatment required by the injured party. Most often when a case goes to court it is due to the injured party simply trying to receive compensation from an unfair insurance company who denies the extent of responsibility.
When a motor vehicle accident does occur dealing with the insurance companies is often a frustrating and unfair situation for the person who has been injured and their family. Insurance companies do not play fair and an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve to manage through these difficult and confusing times.
Unfortunately, the insurance companies tend to dictate your medical care as well since they are contractually responsible for paying the medical bills. Therefore, they often deny needed medical treatment based on the cost of it. This is another frustrating result of an auto crash. It is important that you work with both your medical provider and the insurance adjuster/ case manager to resolve any payment issues for necessary treatment.
Not all lawyers handle all areas of law. You must hire an experienced injury trial lawyer.
Personal injury trial lawyers know how to conduct the proper investigation, line up the right witnesses and compile the right evidence that will prove an injured person’s case against the insurance companies. While settling a case out of court should be everyone’s goal, often the insurance adjusters and defense lawyers will drag a case out for years and force everyone to go to trial by offering substantially less money to settle a case than its true value based on the impact on a person’s life. It is important that the attorney you choose to handle your case has a successful record for obtaining jury verdicts for injured clients. He or she needs to know how to maximize the value of an injury case and present successfully to a jury.
Your priority is feeling better.
The most important thing to do after you are injured in a car crash is to make sure you are seeking medical treatment with appropriate specialists. Be sure to tell your doctor(s) everything that is affected by the crash to ensure the insurance company continues to provide medical benefits to which you are entitled.
Drivers of tractor trailers are required to follow the rules specifically written for them to keep themselves and other drivers of vehicles on our roadways safe. If they do not follow the rules, and as a result another driver is injured, the commercial driver is responsible for that injury. The owner of the company and the truck for which the driver works, may also be responsible for that injury.
In bad weather, truck drivers are required to use "extreme caution" or stop driving all together. If the roadways are icy, for example, a truck must slow its speed to a crawl and stop driving as soon as possible to avoid a crash. Trucking companies that permit their drivers to continue operating during heavy fog, snow storms, ice storms and torrential rains place every driver on the road at risk of significant injury, including their own driver.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations state as follows at 49 C.F.R. § 392.14:
"Hazardous conditions; extreme caution. Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. . . ."
The drivers of large trucks are called upon to use their training, experience, judgment and any resources available to them to be safe on roads that become unsafe by bad weather. This includes staying apprised of weather reports and pulling off the road when necessary.
Often truck drivers are under pressure to deliver their loads with strict deadlines set by their companies. Regardless of those pressures, ultimately, drivers of commercial trucks are responsible for paying attention to weather conditions. In wet or icy conditions, drivers of 18-wheelers must follow the rules of the road and make safe decisions since their vehicles require increased stopping distance on wet and slippery roadways.
The consequences of unsafe truck driving on snowy, wet or icy roads can be devastating. All drivers need to be especially careful in bad weather, but drivers of commercial trucks have a greater duty to follow the rules of the road in ice and snow.
Lauren D. Fraser, Esq
Lauren is a nationally recognized trial attorney in New Jersey, having been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers organization as one of the Top 100 Trial Attorneys in NJ. Lauren specializes in personal injury law representing people in the community who have been injured through no fault of their own.