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Cell phone use can play a dangerous role in truck accidents

Often when Nashville residents think about a distracted driver using a cell phone behind the wheel of a car, the first thing they will think of is a teenager. Certainly, teenagers' relative inexperience with driving and obsession with social media can be a dangerous combination, even a deadly one. The problem of distracted driving and cell phone use, however, is much more widespread, and - perhaps most disconcertingly - extends to drivers of much larger, potentially more dangerous vehicles.

There are three main types of driver distraction: visual, mechanical and cognitive. Visual distraction involves taking eyes off the road; mechanical means taking hands off the wheel; and cognitive is when the driver's mind is not committed to the task of driving. Texting on a cell phone involves visual and mechanical distraction, but even speaking on a hands-free cell phone while driving involves cognitive distraction. Many people say that they can't talk on the phone while they are watching their favorite television show, for example, yet they think they can drive while talking on the phone.

Cognitive distraction is a problem for all kinds of drivers, but the danger may be greatest when large trucks are involved. Truck drivers, of course, spend many hours on the road and may crave a telephone conversation just to alleviate the boredom and loneliness. But because semitrailers and other commercial trucks are so large and heavy, they are harder to maneuver and harder to stop and any collision between a large truck and a smaller vehicle runs the risk of serious injury or death.

Studies show that professional truck drivers are on average more careful than other drivers on the road, but they do make mistakes from time to time. And some truck accidents are caused at least partly by employers who violated federal trucking regulations or by trucking companies that failed to properly maintain their vehicles.

Tennessee residents who have been injured in an accident with a truck can be left with enormous medical expenses and other damages. The injured should get help researching the legal options that may allow them to be compensated.

Source: TruckingInfo, "'Cognitive Distraction' Means Hands-Free Cell Phones Aren't Any Safer," Deborah Lockridge, June 26, 2013

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