Kansas City Townsend Law Firm

It is illegal for commercial truck drivers to text at the wheel

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2018 | Truck Accident

With the rise of smartphones and other mobile devices like tablets, more people are texting and driving than ever before. Studies about road safety make it pretty clear that any form of distraction while at the wheel can be deadly to everyone else and yourself.

When the person indulging in a distraction is a commercial truck driver, everyone else on the road assumes the vast majority of the risk. Missouri is one of a few states left that does not outlaw texting behind the wheel for adults.

However, that law only applies to people driving passenger vehicles. There are federal rules in place that prohibit commercial truck drivers from texting or otherwise engaging in screen-based distraction while at the wheel. No matter how careful you are around trucks, you can’t control the drivers’ poor choices.

There are many reasons why truck drivers text while driving

Working as a truck driver is not an easy job. There are very long hours, often compounded by strict deadlines. Some companies even pay less to drivers who don’t make their deliveries on time. Beyond that, people driving commercially in the United States often spend days or whole weeks away from their families. It can be a lonely and boring job.

In some ways, texting for commercial drivers seems to make sense. It can keep them awake and alert and stave off the depression that may come from the isolation inherent in their jobs.

Unfortunately, truck drivers have brains that work just like the rest of us. They can’t focus on the road and the screen at the same time. When they take their eyes off the road, they drastically increase the risk that they could cause an accident that injures or even kills someone else.

Federal commercial driving rules prohibit texting

In order to reduce the risk of distraction at the wheel, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a ban in place on all texting for commercial drivers. Texting does not just mean sending SMS messages two other cellphone users.

Under the definition from the FMCSA, texting includes SMS messaging, instant messaging, sending emails, typing commands or website addresses, and even pressing more than one button to dial or hang up the phone.

Any commercial driver who violates this law could face a ticket. More importantly, he or she could lose eligibility for commercial driving in the future. Those risks won’t necessarily stop truckers from texting at the wheel.

For those who end up hurt in a truck-related crash, it is important to carefully explore the potential that distraction played a part in the crash. Cellphone records can produce valuable information, even if the truck driver intentionally deleted messages immediately after the crash. People who get hurt by distracted drivers, including commercial drivers, deserve compensation for their injuries and losses.