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Distracted Driving And Commercial Trucks — A Deadly Combination

It should have been a day of celebration. A group of nursing students were set to complete their clinical rotations at a nearby hospital. Instead, it became a day of tragedy and mourning. That morning, a tractor-trailer driver crashed into the back of two cars carrying the nurses to their last day of rotations. The violent crash killed five of the students. It left their families and an entire college community in mourning.

In the hours after the deadly tragedy, investigators began to piece together events. Witnesses at the scene described the fiery aftermath of the crash. According to a law enforcement officer:

He came along from behind them and he just did not stop for those cars.

The investigations by both law enforcement and the victims’ families revealed a reckless and terrible case of distracted driving. Eventually, an attorney for the family of a victim had an opportunity to take depositions of the driver and trucking company. According to that attorney, the truck’s cab was filled with pornography and the truck driver admitted to texting while driving. The same attorney further described events:

He could have very well been either looking at porn in the cab of his truck, or looking at pictures, nude pictures, that this woman had sent of herself to him, which he admitted that she had done.

The deadly crash involved a completely distracted driver. Now, over a year later, a Georgia grand jury took the rare step of criminally indicting not just the truck driver but also the trucking company. While a corporate indictment is rare, maybe it will make our highways safer.

Distracted driving is quickly becoming the major cause of automobile accidents. We believe the rate of distracted driving accidents is much higher than reported. And, we have discussed the underreporting of distracted driving in prior blog posts. We would like to hear your comments and stories on this issue.

A television station in New York has also studied distracted driving and commercial trucks. The television story contains interesting information. It also contains startling video footage of truckers barreling down Interstate highways while appearing to text on their phones. The investigative story follows:

Texting while driving is dangerous in any vehicle. It’s especially dangerous when the vehicle is a commercial truck weighing thousands of pounds or a bus carrying passengers. Yet, that’s exactly what the video shows. We need greater enforcement to prevent deadly crashes from truck drivers who choose to text and drive.