Truck drivers log dozens of hours on the road in one week, traversing states and time zones to deliver their payload on time. When they run on tight schedules, truckers may have their attention divided while behind the wheel; eating, using a GPS or talking on the radio can act as driving distractions, which can have catastrophic consequences.
A collision involving a semi-trailer or other large truck accident usually creates a lot of property damage and causes injuries more often than not. Their sheer size compared to that of a sedan makes them especially dangerous without even considering how much the truck can weigh. The driver of a vehicle this size needs to be focused on the road at all times.
Distracted Driving Accidents in Semi-Trucks
According to the most recent accident data, large trucks were involved in about six percent of all distracted driving fatality accidents in one year. Using a cell phone or any electronic device is strictly prohibited for all truck drivers by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This includes actions ranging from but not limited to making calls, texting, using a GPS, or emailing.
Truckers spend most of their time on highways, and as such are driving at a fast rate. It’s estimated that if you take your eyes off the road for five seconds to read a text, and are going 55 mph, you miss more than 300 feet of road. A lot can happen in that distance, and it’s just one of the many factors which make distracted driving so perilous.
How Can Distracted Driving Be Prevented?
More and more, no tolerance policies have been put into law which apply to all drivers. Regulations vary by state, but 46 of them have bans on texting and driving, and 14 states, including Maryland, prohibit hand use of cell phones of any kind for drivers of all ages. The penalties for a truck driver are severe; if caught using a cell phone while driving, a commercial driver is fined up to $2,750 per offense. They could also have their commercial license revoked for a period of time.
Beyond strict laws and heavy fines, a lot of distracted driving prevention amounts to personal responsibility; a driver just has to be disciplined enough to put the phone down and focus on the road in front of them.
Other Truck Driving Safety Tips
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind. If you place your phone in the center console or silence it and keep it in your pocket, you won’t know if you get a notification and thus won’t be tempted to look.
- Be Prepared. Eat the granola bar at home, save the paper for the office and have your makeup applied before getting behind the wheel. We all like to multitask, but driving is not a good time for it.
- Secure All Items. If something falls onto your car floor, your instinct will be to reach for it. Distracted driving doesn’t just involve phones, and reaching for something will take your eyes off the road and affect your steering.
- Set a Good Example. If you have passengers, show them what it means to be an attentive driver. If you are a passenger, speak up if the driver of the car is not paying as much attention as they should be.
A distracted driver will not see lane changes, sudden braking or upcoming exits in time. When a semi-truck is involved, it’s a nightmare scenario. Truckers and other drivers just have to put the phone down and not look at until parked off of the road. That text or email can wait, your life and that of others depend on you being 100 percent focused on driving.