Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Distracted Driving…Unsafe, Illegal AND Expensive

On January 26, 2010, the US Department of Transportation announced the publication of regulations prohibiting texting by drivers of commercial vehicles such as large trucks and buses.  The press release is found HERE.  The secretary of transportation, Ray Hood indicated that this would be an important step in eliminating the threat of distracted driving.  Violations of the regulation could result in civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.00.

Text while driving NO-1 This new regulation came on the heels of a December 30, 2009 executive order directing federal employees to not engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles or government-owned equipment.  And the end is not in sight.  The FMCSA is working on additional regulations regarding “distracted driving” that will be announced in the coming months.

This new regulation does not change what professional drivers have known for a long time: that distracted driving can end in disaster.  However, the full effect of these regulations on litigation is unknown.

Nevertheless, Plaintiff’s attorney will immediately recognize the benefits that these types of regulations will provide them.  The regulations will set a minimum standard of care, that in the past, may have required a expert to establish.  And you’ve got to believe that these regulations are going to make Plaintiff’s attorneys even more interested in getting copies of any records of any communications from the cab to anyone outside.

We encourage all owners and operators to drive safely.  Avoid distractions that take attention away from the operation of that vehicle.  Distracted driving can be made a topic of safety briefings.  Know that a violation of these types of regulations can have dire consequences, not just for the drivers, but also for the public on the road.

We will continue to keep you updated on these topics.  If you have specific questions, feel free contact Mills and Associates and we will do our best to give you a hand.