Distracted driving is a problem for everyone, truck drivers included. Yes, truck drivers are professionally trained and held to higher standards than the average driver, but they remain just as likely to pick up a phone to check a text, take a call or scroll while on the road as any other driver.
The federal government has made it clear that it takes distracted driving seriously. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has stated that it will disqualify a driver’s commercial motor vehicle (CMV) license for a distracted driving offense. It will also fine an employer $11,000 if they require or even allow drivers to use hand-held communication devices while driving. The FMCSA hopes these efforts will help to encourage fleet carriers to move away from such requirements and instead focus on safe driving practices.
What can the trucking industry do to reduce the risk of distracted driving?
Education is always helpful. Having information about the dangers of distracted driving helps, but insurance leaders have dug into this issue and found that personal stories are an important part of the equation. These stories go a long way to support deterrence efforts. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has found success using this method to reduce fatalities connected to drunk driving. Having an employee share their own story can help to encourage other employees to put down their phones and focus on the roads. This takes that data, the education, and translates it into a reality that has a closer connection to the drivers.
Another key is to verify that drivers are following the rules. This can include use of in-cab cameras to help determine what contributed to a crash after the fact as well as telematics and other tech advances that alert the carrier’s team if a driver is breaking its distracted driving policies.
What if I am in an accident with a commercial truck?
Due to the rules of physics, these accidents are more likely to have tragic consequences compared to typical car accidents. The 18-wheel commercial truck is far more likely to outweigh a passenger vehicle — by a lot. This means the force that impacts the car is massive, and often translates to force on those within the vehicle.
Do not take these accidents lightly. The responsibility for the crash could extend beyond the driver to the fleet carrier. It is important to look into their policies and track record to see if their business practices may have contributed to the accident.