Distracted Drivers – Phone Calls / Texting

It took some time, but finally, the Federal Department of Transportation issued a regulatory ruling that banned texting while driving in most commercial motor vehicles.

A study out of Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) showed that for heavy trucks the following activities increased risk by:personal injury attorneys

Dialing Cell Phone, 5.9 times more likely to have a crash
Use/reach for an electronic device, 6.7 times as likely
Texting, 23.2 times as likely.
Those are some sobering statistics.

A new factor

A ruling out of California plays into the mix in an interesting way. Although the case involved looking at information on a cell phone subsequent to a drug arrest, the courts held that police could search a cell phone without a warrant as part of their investigation. This means that at the scene of an accident, officers may pull up recent cell phone activity to see if the driver involved was texting.

States are still working out the law. A ruling in Ohio found just the opposite, and in that state, a warrant is required.

Attorneys who are establishing the facts of a truck vs. car collision for their client will often subpoena cell phone records. They do this to find out if a truck driver may have been driving distracted – a situation that may have contributed to an accident. With the police able to do this on scene however, the case is made that much stronger by having their independent testimony on record in the police report. This may also be used to establish penalties against truck drivers under the DOT regulations.distracted drivers

Of course, for professional truck drivers, there are many more distractions than cell phones alone. As noted in the VTTI study, merely reaching for an electronic device can dramatically increase the chances of having an accident. Modern truck cabs may have a CB-radio, radar detector, laptop computer, GPS display, electronic manifest or log, and other devices – all or any of which can impair driving.

More accidents and more deadly accidents

Distracted driving not only increases the numbers of accidents, but increases the likelihood that an accident will be serious. Data shows that 20% of injury crashes involved distracted driving – and these are only the ones reported. The assumption is that many go unreported.

The reason is simple. When you are attentive, you can take some action – braking or swerving – to lessen the damage. But with distracted driving, the responsible party is often unaware an accident is about to happen. Quite often, these accidents involve ramming into the back of a stopped vehicle at full speed or drifting into the wrong lane. The mental or cognitive impairment is akin to falling asleep at the wheel – much worse even than someone who is driving slightly drunk. Their reactions will be slowed, but the distracted driver can completely zone out, allowing the truck to move along on autopilot.

So Many Reasons Why You Need Insurance

Rental car agencies have a menu of insurance policies they would like to sell you. While each policy could be of some benefit under the right circumstances, you should review each plan (its provisions, limitations, and exclusions) before making a purchase. It is a good idea to request the detailed information from an agent at the rental office, as most companies only provide a summary on their Web sites.insurance agency

Keep in mind; you may not need to buy this additional car insurance because you have auto insurance from your own car insurance company. Generally speaking, when you rent a car, the liability coverage limits you have in your own auto insurance policy remain in effect with the same limits. In addition, the comprehensive and collision coverages you have in your own auto insurance policy remain in effect with the same deductibles. You do have comprehensive and collision coverage don’t you?

You may also have some kind of additional auto insurance coverage through your credit card but it is important that you check your credit card information for specific details. Some cards only offer coverage if you rent your car from a particular agency. Some limit the days for which coverage is available. Some will only provide coverage for certain types and/or classes of cars. With some cards, the coverage is not automatic and you must enroll in a program to get coverage. Some cards that advertise automatic rental insurance really only reimburse you for the deductible that you would have to pay under your regular insurance policy. Still others may provide only collision and comprehensive coverage, leaving you exposed for personal injury or property damage to others. Rental car agencies typically offer liability coverage in two parts – a supplemental liability policy protects against claims from others and a Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) covers the rental car. LDW is not technically insurance; rather, it is a company’s agreement not to hold the consumer liable for loss from all or part of any damage to merchandise.

Before you rent a vehicle, realize the charges you could be responsible for and how these charges are covered or not covered by both your own auto insurance policy and the car insurance the rental company is offering.

If you suffer a loss that is not covered under your auto policy, check your other insurance policies. For example, if personal property has been stolen from your rental car, it may be covered under your homeowners or renters policy. Similarly, certain medical policies may cover costs of injuries not covered by your car insurance policy.car insurance

As always, check with your insurance company to find out exactly what is covered under your own auto insurance policy.