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New Study Says Boston Truck Accidents 23 Times More Likely When Texting, and NHTSA Introduces New Truck Braking Standards

The issue of truck safety has been in the news lately. Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration introduced new braking standards for truck drivers that the federal agency says will save 227 lives a year and prevent 300 serious injuries from happening. The NHTSA’s new standards requires tractor-trailer drivers to improve their stopping distance by 30%. Truckers traveling at 60 mph will now have to come to a complete stop in 250 instead of 355 feet.

Large truck crashes continue to claim more than 4,000 lives a year. In 2008, 4,229 people died in large truck collisions in the US.

With the latest findings issued from a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, it’s interesting to wonder how many of these truck injuries and deaths could have been avoided if certain large truck drivers hadn’t been texting while driving.

The study found that texting while driving increases a large trucker’s crash risk by 23 times and that texting truckers have been known to spend nearly five seconds just looking down at their phone or PDA-meaning that those few precious moments spent with their eyes off the road are moments when their crash risk increased dramatically.

Our Boston truck accident law firm cannot stress how dangerous it is for a truck driver-or any driver for that matter-to take their eyes off the road for any length of time. The study is quick to point out that it takes a truck just 4.6 seconds while going at a speed of 55mph to travel the full length of a football field.

Massachusetts currently does not have a law banning texting while driving-although this week lawmakers in the US Senate called for all states to ban texting for motorists or suffer a decrease in highway funding. Yet the dangers of this bad habit are not foreign to lawmakers in this state.

In May, a texting Green Line operator caused an MBTA train accident that injured 62 passengers. Aiden Quinn pleaded not guilty to charges of gross negligence. The train traveled for nearly 600 feet and Quinn ran a yellow light and a red light while he communicated with his girlfriend. By the time he took his eyes off the cell phone, the train he was operating was 8 feet from another trolley. The rear-end Massachusetts train crash caused 9 million in property damage.

New data from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute provides insight into cell phone use and driving distraction, Virginia Tech, July 29, 2009
Study: Texting while driving more dangerous for truckers, CNN, July 28, 2009
Tough New Braking Rules For Large Trucks Will Save Hundreds of Lives Annually, NHTSA, July 24, 2009
Green Line operator in court to face negligence charge, Boston.com, July 20, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Air Brake Systems, NHTSA (PDF)

Contact our Boston injury law firm today.