Surprising Facts About Distracted Driving for Truck Drivers

Strong Tie Insurance November 26, 2019 Commercial Truck Insurance

One of the biggest causes of accidents on the road today involves distracted driving. While it’s easy to think that it could never happen to you or that you’re far too careful, the reality is that distracted driving impacts nearly everyone. If you work as a truck driver, the outcomes can be even more severe. From seeing an increase in your commercial truck insurance rates to causing an accident that takes lives, distracted driving should be taken seriously at every turn.

Here’s what you need to know about the biggest accident-causer on the road:

What is distracted driving?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created a straightforward definition of distracted driving:

  • No Reaching
  • No Holding
  • No Texting
  • No Dialing
  • No Reading

All of these behaviors can take your attention off the road. Since it only takes seconds for an accident to occur, even the most innocuous actions can have serious consequences.

Of course, not all of these guidelines are illegal. Some, however, have caught the eyes of lawmakers and those in law enforcement.

A broader definition of distracted driving would consider the following:

  • Taking your eyes off of the road
  • Taking your hands off of the wheel
  • Taking your mind off of driving

Does this mean that reaching for a bottle of water is guaranteed to cause an accident? If the container is in a cup holder or somewhere you can grab it without losing focus on the road, there shouldn’t be a problem. If, however, that bottle of water fell onto the passenger’s side floor and requires a full-body extension to grab it, that is a problem.

It ultimately comes down to if an action takes your attention away from or interferes with your ability to drive safely, it’s considered distracted driving.

Read More: Cases of Fatal Truck Collisions Due To Distracted Driving

Texting and driving

One of the most significant causes of distracted driving comes from texting while on the road. The FMCSA defines texting as manually entering alphanumeric text into or reading text from an electronic device. This definition includes texting on a dispatching device or pressing more than a single button to start or stop a phone call.

In regards to mobile devices, the FMSCA considers any device that requires at least one hand to use. For anyone behind the wheel, that means any texting, phone calls, or dialing needs be accomplished hands-free. The hands-free device also needs to be located near the driver. Hands-free devices are those that can be operated without distraction. These devices also need to be activated with the use of a single button.

The only exception for using a non-hands-free device while driving is in the case of contacting law enforcement or medical services in an emergency. Even in these emergency situations, drivers need to take care not to put themselves at risk. When possible, it’s best to make emergency calls should be made through a hands-free device or when the vehicle is in a safe, stationary position.

Read More: What Are The Most Common Reasons for Road Accidents?

Facts about distracted driving

While it might seem like distracted driving only happens to other people or isn’t that serious, the data would show otherwise. Here are some alarming facts you should consider before you dismiss the impact of driving while being distracted.

  • Close to 1,000 people are injured every day or 2.5 million people per year. The leading cause of these accidents is distracted driving. Nearly 80 percent of crashes were caused by the driver losing attention for just three seconds before the crash.
  • Nearly 71 percent of truck accidents were caused by distracted driving.
  • Texting and driving make you six times more likely to have an accident than a drunk driver.
  • Multitasking isn’t a real thing. While everyone likes to think they can drive and accomplish other tasks at the same time, the reality is that your brain doesn’t do two things at once. Instead, it moves back and forth between the two tasks. That other thing that grabs your attention could be the cause of an accident.
  • After looking at your cell phone, it takes an average of thirteen seconds for your brain to refocus. In those seconds, a lot can happen, and you may not have time to react. Everything from the traffic coming to a complete stop in front of you to someone pulling into your lane can quickly happen in less than thirteen seconds. 
  • An estimated 77 percent of accidents happen within fifteen miles of your destination. Many accidents happen in areas we feel the most familiar.
  • Eating is almost as bad as texting and driving. While eating in the car might seem like a great way to make efficient use of your time, it’s also hazardous. Eating requires taking at least one hand off the wheel. More importantly, if something spills, is too hot, or leaks, we are likely to react to the food and lose sight of the road.

Common distracted driving activities

The FMSCA found that several activities increased the risk of causing accidents.

  • Texting: 23.2 times as likely
  • Writing: 9 times
  • Dialing a phone: 5.9 times
  • Reaching for a device: 6.7 times
  • Looking at a map: 7 times
  • Talking or listening to a CB radio: 0.6 times
  • Using a hands-free phone: 0.4 times

Stay safe out there

Whether you work behind the wheel or employ truck drivers in your company, policies, and training regarding safe driving are crucial. That means using a dispatch and communication system that doesn’t require losing focus on the road ahead. It also means having a zero-tolerance policy in regards to what activities can be engaged while driving.

The results of unsafe driving are well-known. Accidents involved trucks can be even more dangerous due to the truck’s massive size. A distracted driver behind the wheel of a big rig can destroy property, ruin cargo, and can even take lives. Make it your company as well as personal policy not to grab, reach, hold, dial, read, or do anything else that steals focus. You’ll be happy that you did.

 

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