Distraction and truck drivers – a deadly combination

Distraction and truck drivers – a deadly combination

Tractor-trailers are a common sight in Cabarrus County as they haul goods to their destinations. Truck drivers go through specialized training to learn how to maneuver these big rigs and deal with situations that could result in a trucking accident. However, despite this education and emphasis on safety, truck drivers still engage in behavior that puts others' lives at risk.

Distraction can be fatal

One of the problems that has recently attracted attention is distractive driving, and while most of the attention seems focused on motorists, it is also a serious problem for truckers. Just a few months ago, 2 children were injured and 6 other people died when the SUV they were in was hit from behind by a trucker in Kentucky, according to the New York Daily News. According to the driver of the semi, he did not see the SUV brake but law enforcement officials suspect that he was distracted.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that one study showed about 10 percent of accidents involving large trucks were attributed to some form of distracted driving. However, the numbers may be significantly higher as many truckers might be reluctant to tell investigators exactly what they were doing when an accident occurred.

A number of distractions for truckers

The sheer size of a semi would imply that the person who drives it needs to put every ounce of concentration on the task of driving but this is not always the case. Just as with drivers of passenger cars, truckers may be tempted to engage in behaviors that take attention off of the road before them. These behaviors include:

  • Smoking
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Reading maps
  • Using calculators
  • Fixating on something outside the vehicle

One distraction that was banned by the FMCSA is the use of cell phones by interstate truckers. This means that truck drivers are no longer allowed to text or make phone calls with hand-held phones.

Decreasing distractions in large trucks

A 2009 report put together by the FMCSA on distraction and commercial drivers pointed out that there are ways that fleet managers, trucking companies and instrument panel designers can reduce distraction for truckers.

Fleet managers were encouraged to develop policies aimed at avoiding distraction, provide more education to their drivers and be more aware of what their drivers were bringing with them into their trucks. Designers could change elements on dispatching devices and instruments to lower the amount of time that a trucker has to look away from the road or take his hands off of the wheel.

By increasing truckers' knowledge of distracted behavior, truckers will likely realize the risks they create for themselves and for others. When a person is injured in a truck accident they should discuss their legal options with a qualified and experienced attorney.

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