Even professional drivers with long hours spent in training, certification and practice can still be tempted by distractions while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, an 18-wheeler that causes a motor vehicle collision can cause devastating property damage and catastrophic injuries.
While inside-the-cab distractions can generally be visual, manual or cognitive, outside-the-cab distractions are almost exclusively visual. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) offers six tips to help truck drivers stay safe and ensure the safety of all drivers sharing the road with them.
- Be aware of outside-the-cab distractions: Truck drivers must remain attentive to what’s going on all around them, but they must be careful to not be distracted by those events. Passing a construction site, for example, should not pull a driver’s attention from the road past ensuring that the traffic around the site is safe.
- Never text while driving: Even though this activity is illegal, many truck drivers still take a moment to converse over text. This action can pull a driver’s eyes from the road and hands from the steering wheel. Texting remains one of the most dangerous distractions that exists.
- Always stop before using a mobile data terminal: Often, it becomes necessary to communicate with dispatchers while in mid-route. Even though the message might seem urgent, it is wise to wait until you are stopped before communicating and taking notes on new instructions.
- Avoid using a handheld cell phone: While a conversation can be distracting in its own right, using voice-activated dialing and a handsfree device is always preferable.
- Avoid reading or taking notes: Using paper maps, reading a book or writing notes might seem like things a professional driver could manage while behind the wheel. These are terrible ideas, however. Not only are you taking your eyes off the road, but you’re removing your hands from the steering wheel and letting your mind wander away from the task at hand.
- Do not dine and drive: This might be difficult for those who spend hours upon hours on the road but eating and drinking while behind the wheel are dangerous activities. It is wise to wait until you are at a rest area, refueling or have finished for the day to eat your meal.
Preventing distracted driving accidents can reduce severe injuries and vehicular fatalities. All drivers must avoid distractions while behind the wheel to keep roads – highways, county roads and surface streets – safe.