Truck drivers lead an adventurous life – traveling all across America, delivering cargo from East Coast to West Coast, from Canada to Mexico, and all routes in between – and truckers are known to be an independent bunch. However, it’s a reality that driving big rig semis for long stretches at a time can be a lonely life and most truckers find ways to combat that loneliness by communicating with others on the road.
In the past, there were the CB Radios (Citizen’s Band Radios) and its CB slang made famous in 1970s movies like Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Convoy (1978). CB Radio chatter is still popular with truck drivers for checking things like speed traps and road hazards, but it’s not their only option now.
These days, access to the Internet and web social media via tablets and smart phones allow truck drivers not only to confer with other truckers on the road, but also with family, friends, and loved ones miles away. Web offerings like Skype, for example, let truck drivers talk to kids and spouses over live video feeds. However, distracted driving laws exist today in states all across the country.
Each state is different – what is legal in Indiana or Illinois may be illegal in Arizona, or vice versa. Truckers must know the laws for each state in which they travel regarding using a cell phone or computer tablet while driving on state roads.
Truck Driver Using Smart Phone to Surf Facebook in Major Interstate Accident
Unfortunately, distracted driving laws are only as good as their level of enforcement, and if they are not followed by truck drivers then real dangers remain on our roadways. This week, there was sad news out of Arizona where a truck driver chose to spend his time while driving by also checking on Facebook, where news reports are that he was surfing Facebook to find images of women in provocative poses as he cruised along the interstate at 65 mph on cruise control.
Trying to monitor the road and the screen proved to be too much for the truck driver, and a serious and fatal big rig semi truck accident happened where not only two fire department trucks and three police cars were involved in traffic accident on Interstate 8 with the trucker’s fuel tanker truck (which thankfully was empty of fuel at the time), but one Arizona Department of Public Safety officer was killed in the crash.
Truck Driver Now Charged With Second-Degree Murder
The death of Arizona DPS Officer Tim Huffman in that May 6, 2013, crash on Interstate 8 near Yuma, Arizona, has resulted in the truck driver, Jorge Espinoza, being charged with second-degree murder (among other things).
One critical piece of evidence: the dashboard video (see it here) from the big rig tanker truck’s cab which shows the truck driver’s smart phone being used at the time of the crash.
The Lesson for All Drivers on the Road Today
Lesson learned: all drivers sharing the roads with these big machines should be very respectful of the power and potential danger of big rig semi trucks and tractor trailer trucks especially when they are traveling at high speeds. Drivers cannot assume that just because there are laws in effect to limit Hours of Service (HOS) so truckers are not fatigued and laws exist to prohibit distracted driving that every truck they come into contact on the highway is being manned by an alert truck driver who isn’t trying to do two things at once.
Be careful when driving with these semi trucks on the roads, and if you are in an accident or crash with a big rig semi truck, make sure that police and investigators who will document things on your behalf are at the scene as soon as possible.
For more information, please check out the Kenneth J. Allen Law Group web resources page for Semi Truck Crashes and Wrongful Death as well as our blog posts dealing with these kinds of Big Rig Semi Truck Accidents.