Truck Accidents vs. Car Accidents: What Statistics Say About Cause
Pennsylvania drivers saw some recent legislation this past year limiting the use of handheld devices while driving. Commercial drivers are now prohibited from using their hand held devices while driving. Drivers of passenger vehicles are allowed to talk on their cell phone while driving, but are not permitted to text. Violators of both bans will be subject to fines. Commercial drivers who violate the law are subject to a higher fine than individuals.
Ironically, the more lenient of the two bans was placed on the more at risk group.
In 2010, One-Third of the accidents involving truck drivers were attributed to driver related factors. Such factors included speed, fatigue, and a physical or cognitive distraction. These are accidents that could have been avoided if the driver had not contributed some level of negligence. To be clear, accidents not caused the drivers negligence can be attributed by bad weather and obstructed views.
Here’s My personal conclusion on what this study says about commercial vs. individual drivers is:
Commercial drivers are more experienced, having spent more time on the road. Commercial drivers, knowing their job is on the line, operate their vehicle with a higher standard of care than individual drivers.
Yet, we imposed these truck drivers with a stricter ban. Obviously, commercial vehicles are larger, and more dangerous and therefore potentially put more lives at stake. They should now be allowed to be distracted by mobile devices while behind the wheel. But why not subject individual drivers, who are more likely to cause an accident to the same ban?
Unfortunately, it’s easier to enact a ban to affect commercial drivers. It’s easier to regulate an industry than the general public. Truck drivers have a boss they need to report to. The boss, often the owner of the transport company, is liable for any accident caused by their driver. The owner obviously wants regulation in place to keep their driver from causing an accident. The general public does not want to be banned from using their cell phone while driving.
Of course, there are many arguments that can be made, such as the driver being lost and needs to make a phone call. Perhaps that is why Pennsylvania allows us to talk on our cell phones but not text. Texting is a worse distraction because it takes our eyes off the road and our hands off the wheel, while talking on a cell phone decreases our alertness and response time, but our eyes often remain on the road.
With more automobiles of all price levels being built with GPS’s, in the future there may be no need to talk on the phone for directions while driving.