No one questions which vehicle suffers less damage when a commercial truck crashes into a passenger vehicle. Large trucks weigh multiple times what smaller vehicles do. Their size and weight mean that they can cause substantial damage to other vehicles, especially when traveling at high speeds.
You probably already try to give big trucks a wide berth on any road, but especially on the highway when driving fast. Between your instinctive reaction to a looming, larger vehicle and the education that drivers receive, you are likely very aware of how much risk a big vehicle poses you and your passengers.
Sadly, while you might drive as safely as possible, that trucker could be breaking rules that aim to keep you and other people safe.
Commercial drivers should not interact with mobile devices at work
Distraction, especially distraction related to mobile phones, is one of the leading causes of severe crashes in the United States. Although there aren’t federal laws prohibiting most drivers from texting, there are federal laws about texting for commercial drivers.
There is a no-text rule that mandates that commercial drivers cannot manually use a phone for any purpose while driving. They can use hands-free devices, like Bluetooth for calls and text-to-talk software for emails and text messages. Any manual entry, whether they type in a phone number or respond to a text, is a violation of federal rules intended to keep the roads safer.
Some drivers stay on the road when they should stop for the day
Truck drivers are subject to the constant pressure of revolving workplace deadlines. Once they arrive with one load on time, their job performance and possibly their compensation rate depend on them making the next delivery on time as well.
Turn around times for shipping clients rarely consider the possibility of road work, crashes that slow down traffic and inclement weather. Although there are federal Hours of Service rules that limit how long truck drivers can stay behind the wheel, they might drive for a few extra hours if traffic or the weather has delayed them from reaching their destination on time.
Fatigued, chemically-impaired and distracted truck drivers could easily cause a crash. If they do, the risk largely falls to the people in the smaller vehicle involved. According to federal commercial truck crash data, 96% of fatalities in the most recent report involve the people in the smaller vehicle.
The victims of such crashes may have to negotiate intensely to get the compensation they deserve from a commercial insurance policy. In some cases, they may have no choice but to go to court and file a civil lawsuit after a crash leaves them hurt or grieving the loss of a loved one.