For years we have explored cell phone distraction as a factor in the cause of motor vehicle accidents, including commercial trucking accidents. Discovery of cell phone records has become routine in litigation. We have read all the studies, deposed the experts and argued about the legal ramifications. I won’t rehash all that here.
Now the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a rule barring use of hand held cell phones by commercial truck drivers in interstate commerce. The agency stated the rationale for the rule in part as follows:
Using a hand-held mobile telephone may reduce a driver’s situational awareness, decision making, or performance; and it may result in a crash, near-crash, unintended lane departure by the driver, or other unsafe driving action. Indeed, research indicates that reaching for and dialing hand-held mobile telephones are sources of driver distraction that pose a specific safety risk.
The agency summarizes much of the research on cell phone distraction in explaining its conclusion that “it is the action of taking one’s eyes off the forward roadway to reach for and dial a hand-held mobile telephone … that has the greatest risk.”
Ken Shigley is president of the State Bar of Georgia, a Certified Civil Trial Attorney of the National Board of Trial Advocacy and has an Atlanta-based law practice focused on representation of people seriously injured in commercial trucking accidents.