Important Safety Tip: Don’t Drive a tractor Trailer While Watching Porn!

O.K., the headline is funny, but the story is very sad. How sad? How about a one- and two- year old who are now motherless.

Today news sources report that the driver of a tractor trailer, who was streaming porn on his laptop while he drove his rig into the back of a disabled car on the New York State Thruway (near Pembroke, about 20 miles east of Buffalo), pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter. The disabled vehicle had run into a deer, and was waiting for a tow truck. Its driver, a mother of the one- and three- year olds, was killed by the impact from the tractor trailer.

Sure, watching porn while driving is what made the headlines. (Sex sells, even when it kills!). But this driver was guilty of other important violations as well. 395.3 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations mandates a driving/rest ratio for “commercial carriers” (essentially, tractor trailer drivers). The hours a commercial driver can drive within periods of time are strictly limited. Here, the driver didn’t get the required rest. He had only 4 hours of sleep in a 27-hour period. Worse still, the driver had “cooked the books” (actually, his driver’s “log”) in an attempt to dupe the authorities into believing he had followed the required rest/drive ratios. The authorities unearthed his lies by looking beyond his self-recorded “log”, and into his E-ZPass records and the GPS tracking for his 18-wheeler.

The commercial carrier driver’s log I mentioned above is mandated by §395.8 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. And it is often a treasure-trove of important information for people like me who sue commercial truck drivers and their commercial carrier employers for truck accidents causing personal injuries in New York State. In the log, the driver has to state whether he was “on” or “off” duty, whether he was driving, whether he was in the “sleeper booth”, etc., as well as the name of the city, town or village, etc. where he started, stopped or rested. The total miles during each leg of the trip are also recorded. I personally have spent hours scouring these log entries – not exciting work, but very revealing — in my New York tractor-trailer accident cases.

So far I have never found an entry that says, “driving while watching porn”. No one’s that honest, and let’s hope none (except this one) is stupid enough to try that.

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