Could a company’s admission about its drivers’ cellphone use pave the way for a ban of the devices in the big rigs? We’ll talk about it in this issue.
The Case at a Glance
A polyester and nylon yarns manufacturer agreed to pay a couple $3.75 million after one of the company’s truck drivers struck their vehicle from behind. According to phone records, the truck driver was talking on his cellphone at the time of the crash.
While the crash occurred just before sundown
The truck driver claimed the couple were stopped in the middle of the road and their headlights were off. However, black-box records from the couple’s vehicle confirmed that the headlights were on and they had decelerated to 10 mph.
The truck driver, in a deposition, said that he was not using his phone when the crash occurred. In the trial, however, he changed his story to say that, while his phone line was connected, he wasn’t engaged in conversation.
The Company’s Truck Driver Phone Policy
At the time of the crash, the policy of the company maintained that its drivers could only use their cell phone for 2 minutes or less, and only if they were using a Bluetooth wireless device.
The driver in the crash, however, was proven to have been using his cellphone for 7 hours during his 8.5-hour shift. Phone logs collected by the couples’ lawyer revealed that many of the company’s drivers followed a similar habit.
The only preventive measures the company took previously was to have their drivers sign a document saying they wouldn’t use their cell phones longer than 2 minutes.
Feds Ban Hand-Held Phones
Back in 2012, the Federal Motor Carrier Association moved to ban hand-held phones among drivers of commercial vehicles. Hands-free phones, however, were continued to be allowed.
Some trucking firms have banned all cell phone use. Others have taken it a step further by installing truck cabin cameras to make sure drivers follow the rules.
Know Your Rights if You’re a Large Truck Accident Victim
If you’re involved in an accident with a large truck, don’t take your chances in dealing with their insurance providers on your own. Their main goal is to pay you as little as possible.