Truck drivers have a lot of responsibility resting on their shoulders and sometimes they don't realize how simple actions and decisions could endanger someone's life in Saint Clair County. Many commercial drivers spend long amounts of time in their vehicles and sometimes the temptation to treat their trucks as an extension of their home or office is great. However, doing things other than focusing on the task of driving could result in a truck accident.

Bridge accident attributed to distraction

In Maryland, a recent accident on a bridge spanning a bay was attributed to distracted driving. Apparently a truck driver was focusing on something outside the truck and did not realize that traffic had slowed significantly down according to The Baltimore Sun. He hit two vehicles, one of which was actually pushed over the bridge into the water below. The woman in the car survived the fall and was not seriously injured but struggles emotionally and mentally from the accident.

Charges were filed against the driver, who is from Hungary and works for a Canadian company. He faces failure to control speed to avoid a collision, negligent driving, travelling at a speed greater than reasonable and prudent on a highway and unsafe lane changing.

Illinois addresses distraction in commercial drivers

At the beginning of this year, Illinois enacted new traffic safety laws according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. One of those laws echoed a federal regulation, banning the use of cell phones by commercial vehicle drivers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made it illegal for commercial drivers of buses and trucks to use a hand-held cell phone in 2011, according to distraction.gov. The ban was part of a national effort on the part of the U.S. Department of Transportation to reduce distracted driving.

Distraction comes in all forms

While there has been a lot of public attention given to the use of hand-held cell phones and texting, it should be remembered that there are many sources for truck driver distraction. These behaviors include:

  • Smoking
  • Fixating on exterior objects
  • Eating/drinking
  • Looking/reading maps
  • Reaching for items

The FMCSA defines distraction as anything that takes the driver's attention off of the task of driving. In a 2009 report from the agency, it was recommended that fleet safety managers should enact policies that encourage drivers to eliminate distractive behaviors and sources of distraction. The report also stated that more education on distracted driving should be brought to commercial drivers to increase their awareness.

While Illinois has moved one step forward by enacting the cell phone ban, drivers themselves can also make the roads safer by making better choices and paying more attention to their driving behaviors. For victims injured in a trucking accident, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney who can help them understand their legal rights.