Americans are busy people, and just as you may feel tempted to make your phone calls or eat your dinner while you drive, commercial truckers face these same temptations. Because of the size and weight of their vehicles, however, the potential repercussions of truckers driving while distracted may prove more severe than those facing the average motorist.
So, what, exactly, is taking today's truckers away from the roadway, and just how much can these distractions impact your safety? Some of today's most notable truck driver distractions include:
Items on the roadside
Just as you may "rubberneck" when you pass an accident or look up to read a billboard or building sign, those driving the nation's tractor trailers face these same distractions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration notes that driver inattention is a leading factor in accidents and near-accidents and that outside distractions came into play in about 11,000 truck crashes that occurred within a three-year period.
Food and drink
Truckers must adhere to tight schedules, and many drivers seek to cover as many miles per day as they can. To do so, they sometimes forgo taking meal breaks in favor of eating while on the road, but doing so can have serious and potentially deadly consequences. Per one study, eating or drinking at the wheel is so dangerous that it is even more distracting than talking on the phone behind the wheel.
Commercial truckers rely on dispatching services for all types of reasons. They might use them for navigational purposes, or to find out how to avoid either bad weather or considerable traffic and so on. Truckers also sometimes use them to track their hours and communicate with their employers. Doing so while operating the truck, however, is always a bad idea, as using a dispatching service can take a trucker's hands, eyes and mental attention away from the task at hand, considerably boosting the odds of a serious accident.
When truckers drive distracted, they endanger themselves, but they also endanger everyone else on the road. Trucking companies can improve public safety by properly training their drivers and encouraging them to take breaks for meals, communications and anything else that might take their attention away from the road.