Driving a semitrailer requires a special license because these mammoth vehicles require special driving skills in order to operate them safely. Their size makes them imposing enough on the road, but when coupled with the number of tons just one 18-wheeler weighs, maneuvering, stopping and otherwise evading disaster becomes a challenge.
That's the challenge on a good day facing every truck driver on the roads of Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. When truckers allow themselves to get distracted, any possibility of avoiding a catastrophe on the road diminishes.
What the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recommends
The FMCSA regulates the trucking industry on behalf of the federal government. As such, it attempts to provide truck drivers with useful information and tips to keep them -- and everyone else -- safe on the road. When it comes to distractions behind the wheel, the FMCSA advises truckers to avoid the following while driving:
- Paying too much attention to objects outside the truck
- Using mobile or portable data terminals
- Dialing a cell phone
- Eating and drinking
- Reading, writing or using paper maps
This advice may sound familiar to most drivers since it is the same advice given to them. Distracted driving has become an epidemic, and data attributes numerous accidents to it each year. People die and suffer serious injuries because another driver failed to keep his or her attention on the road.
The responsibility to pay attention extends to all drivers, but when it comes to truck drivers, the FMCSA may hold them to a higher standard.
What you can do after an accident with a distracted trucker
You may also hold that truck driver responsible for his or her actions in a truck accident. If a truck driver failed to keep his or her attention on the road for any reason and crashed into you, you retain the right to seek compensation for the injuries you suffered. If the truck crashed into a vehicle occupied by one of your loved ones, you may also look to the courts for compensation.
You face the same challenges in a truck accident as in a passenger vehicle accident, but with added concerns. The injuries you suffered may be catastrophic. Your life may require significant changes to adapt to your new circumstances. Your financial situation may change forever since you may need some form of medical care for the rest of your life.
Furthermore, truckers and the trucking companies that employ them ordinarily rely on attorneys and insurance companies to negotiate any claims against them. These companies don't want to pay you one cent more than they absolutely have to and will use all of the resources at their disposal to prevent that from happening.
More than likely, an insurance company will offer you a settlement for much less than the compensation you deserve. You may benefit from determining whether the settlement serves your best interests. If it does not, you may want to consider taking legal action.