South Carolina Attorney Supports New Rules Aimed At Curbing Distracted Driving By Commercial Truck Drivers

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Columbia, S.C., personal injury attorney Bert Louthian applauds a proposed federal regulation that would restrict the use of electronic devices by drivers transporting hazardous materials.

Bert Louthian

These rules are steps in the right direction when it comes to protecting motorists in South Carolina and highways across the country from the danger of distracted commercial motor vehicle drivers.

South Carolina personal injury lawyer Bert Louthian says he fully supports a proposed federal regulation that would prohibit commercial truck drivers from using electronic devices while transporting hazardous materials.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood unveiled the proposed Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration rule at the Sept. 21 Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C. At last year’s summit, the secretary announced a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rule banning texting behind the wheel by commercial truck drivers, which has since become law.

“These rules are steps in the right direction when it comes to protecting motorists in South Carolina and highways across the country from the danger of distracted commercial motor vehicle drivers,” says Louthian, a partner in The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., which represents car accident and truck accident victims.

“I would hope that our own South Carolina lawmakers would follow the FMCSA’s lead and pass laws that would put an end to cell phone use and texting by all drivers on our roads,” Louthian says. “I think the statistics show the harm caused by this form of negligent, reckless driving.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving-related automobile accidents claimed 5,474 lives and caused 448,000 traffic injuries across the county in 2009, which comprised 16 percent of the year’s overall traffic fatalities.

Out of those distracted driving accidents, 995 deaths and 24,000 injuries involved reports of cell phone use.

“Anything that takes a driver’s hands, eyes and attention away from the road presents a hazard to other drivers and increases the risk of a serious or fatal accident,” Louthian says. “This is an even greater concern when the driver is behind the wheel of a large tractor trailer or 18-wheeler, which can cause tremendous damage in a crash with a smaller passenger vehicle.”

This past summer, Louthian’s law firm teamed up with WLTX TV of Columbia, S.C., to sponsor The Great Hang Up, a campaign in which drivers signed a pledge to put down their phones when they are behind the wheel.

He also supported legislation that would have imposed a statewide ban on cell phone use or text messaging while driving. The bill passed the state House but failed to get past the Senate.
The South Carolina bill was one of 270 distracted driving bills heard in 43 states across the country during the past year. Currently, 30 states have banned texting behind the wheel, and eight have prohibited handheld cell phone use.

“I hope our lawmakers reconsider this issue and take action that would protect innocent drivers from being killed or injured in a car or truck crash involving a distracted driver,” Louthian says.

About The Louthian Law Firm

The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., of Columbia, S.C., has been obtaining fair compensation for personal injury victims since 1959. The firm was founded by Herbert Louthian, who has nearly 50 years of trial experience and is licensed to practice in all courts in South Carolina. The Louthian Law Firm focuses on personal injury cases involving medical malpractice; car, truck and motorcycle accidents; and other serious and catastrophic injuries throughout South Carolina. For a free, confidential case evaluation, contact the firm by phone at (866) 410-5656 or through its online form.

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