In November, a truck driver in Arizona crashed an empty fuel tanker into a line of police cars and emergency vehicles at 65 miles per hour, claiming the life of Officer Tim Huffman. The tanker’s dash camera was blocked by the wallet of driver Jorge Espinoza, and it did not capture his actions.
It did, however, record his cell phone flying into the air in the collision. Phone records reveal that, at the time of the crash, Espinoza was looking at provocative pictures on several sites including Facebook, YouTube and adult sites.
In fact, the records revealed Espinoza regularly accessed sites with explicit content during his driving shifts — dangerous, illegal behavior that was evidently not identified and addressed by his employer. The concealment of his activities by obscuring his dash camera’s view should have been sufficient to warrant attention.
The regulations for commercial vehicles state that motor carriers cannot require or allow their drivers to use handheld devices while driving.
Federal Law Prohibits Distracted Driving for Truckers
This easily preventable tragedy was the direct result of a truck driver flouting safe practices and federal law. While Arizona does not have a distracted driving law, federal law prohibits the operators of commercial vehicles from using handheld devices on the road.
Specifically, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration prohibits the following while behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle:
- Talking on a handheld phone
- Reaching for or holding a phone in an unsafe manner
- Pressing multiple buttons
The texting provision was implemented in September 2010, and the one prohibiting the use of handheld devices was added in November 2011.
What Can You Do To Stay Safe?
The ultimate question, as always: how can you stay safe on the road? Sadly, it’s not always in our hands. There was nothing Officer Huffman could have done to avoid the crash that claimed his life. But there are ways to recognize a distracted truck driver — or any distracted driver — so that you can take action to avoid them.
Distracted drivers may display the following behaviors:
- Stopping at green lights
- Abrupt and inappropriate lane changes
- Frequent slowing, speeding up and slowing again
- Failing to stop at stop signs or red lights
- Drifting in and out of the lane
If you are sharing the road with a distracted driver, the simplest and best option is to create as much distance between yourself and the distracted driver as possible. Create a cushion so that you have time to react in case they lose control.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you or a loved one was injured, of if you lost a loved one, in an accident involving a semi truck or other commercial vehicle, you may be eligible for compensation. Truckers and trucking companies have a responsibility to other drivers to adhere to all rules and regulations governing safe driving. An accident involving a large commercial vehicle can be physically, emotionally and financially devastating. We cannot take away the injuries, but we can help you seek the compensation you deserve to help alleviate the financial hardship and get closure. The Truck Accident Attorneys have years of experience fighting for the rights of people injured in accidents involving trucks. Please contact us immediately for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.