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Sources of Trucker Distraction

By Karnas Law Firm |

Truck driving is a difficult profession, with long hours and extended periods away from family and friends. Truckers face another risk—distractions. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 80% of crashes are caused by a distraction in the 3 second window before a collision. Some of these distractions are outside the cab, but many are inside.

Anyone hurt in a truck accident should contact Karnas Law Firm, PLLC. We can often negotiate a settlement to cover your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. In this article, we look at the most common truck driver distractions.

Cell Phones

A major source of distraction is cell phone use. Reading or typing a text creates many problems, including:

  • Removing a hand from the wheel, which can make taking defensive action difficult.
  • Removing eyes from the road, so truckers don’t even see danger ahead. A truck can travel 100 yards in only a few seconds.
  • Distracting a truck’s mind because they are thinking about the text or conversation. It is much harder to process information when a person is preoccupied with a conversation they just had.

Because phones are so distracting, the FMCSA has created a rule prohibiting the use of hand-held devices while a truck is in motion. Any trucker who violates the regulation can face fines.

But even the “hands free” devices which the government allows do not completely eliminate distraction. In particular, cognitive distraction remains a serious problem, and a trucker could still lose focus while having a phone conversation or after one has ended.

If you suspect a trucker was using a phone before your crash, tell your attorney. It might be possible to request cell phone records, which would prove when the phone was in use.

Dispatching Devices

Dispatching devices like radios are just as distracting as cell phones. If a trucker needs to talk with a dispatcher, they should wait until the truck is idle. Using it while driving creates all the hazards as cell phones. In fact, there is a 900% increase in being involved in a safety critical event when a trucker uses this device.


Companies pay money to advertise on billboards precisely because they draw people’s attention. It’s natural for a trucker to read a billboard when one comes in his field of vision. Still, billboards are distracting, and a trucker might not see a car slowed down in front of him, leading to wrecks.


A trucker might have a guest riding in the cab. Any conversation can be distracting, especially if they are getting into an argument. If a trucker hits you and someone else pops out of the cab along with the driver, tell your attorney. We might track down this person and have them testify.

Food and Drink

Almost every motorist has eaten a burger or drank a coffee while driving. We get it. This is common behavior. Consequently, we are not surprised that truckers, who spend long hours on the road, might eat or drink as well. Still, food and drink are sources of distraction, and the odds of an accident increase.

At a minimum, a trucker removes a hand from the wheel to raise a cup of coffee to their mouths or hold a sandwich as they bite into it. But some foods, like soup, are so complicated that a trucker might remove both hands.

Another problem with eating while driving is the risk of a spill. If a trucker spills hot coffee all over himself, he might become completely distracted. The same is true when spilling soup or ketchup. The risk of distraction is so serious that the FMCSA reports that some studies think eating is as risky as cell phone use.


Truckers are not immune to checking out accidents or arrests that are taking place on the side of the road, just like other motorists. Unfortunately, this “rubbernecking” creates a visual distraction, and a trucker could collide with vehicles slowed or stopped in front of him.

Dials on the Dash

A trucker changing the radio or adjusting the heat can also become distracted. These actions might feel like second nature. But removing their eyes from the road could lead to collisions, especially when traffic is congested, like in a work zone or downtown.

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer

There is no excuse for distracted driving accidents, especially those involving commercial trucks. If you were hurt in a crash, call Karnas Law Firm for a free consultation. We will determine whether you have a legal right to sue the trucker or trucking company involved in the crash.