Truck drivers who make long distance trips may feel the pull to reach for their phones or other devices to pass the time while driving. Obviously this is very dangerous to do in any vehicle, but the results can be catastrophic when it’s a driver behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound semi-truck.
Despite laws in many places that make it illegal, distracted driving played a part in 3,450 deaths nationwide in 2016. As the deaths continue to grow, responsibility to curb distracted driving does not seem to be taking momentum. For truck drivers who make a living out on the roads, when they drive distracted, they are putting the general public as well as their employers at risk of serious consequences.
This issue was important enough to get the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to enact rules to ban distracted driving for truckers. Citing that it is 23 times more likely to be in an accident when distracted, the regulations ban:
- Reading texts
- Dialing a cell phone that requires pushing more than one button
- Holding a cell phone to make or receive a phone call
- Web browsing
- Using email or instant messaging
Truck drivers who violate any of the above rules can receive a $2,750 fine and the possibility of losing their commercial license. Trucking companies can also receive a civil penalty up to $11,000.
Distracted driving is not limited to the use of a phone or tablet. Many trucks have lots of buttons and radio dials that can take the drivers eyes and attention off the road. Besides a cellphone, here are some other items that can distract truck drivers:
- Using a DVD player or music device
- Using a laptop
- GPS units
- Instrument controls on the dash
- Eating and drinking
- Looking at a map
- Reaching across the cab for an item
- Looking at the surroundings
When the driver of a large tractor trailer or semi-truck is distracted, the results from an accident can be devastating. Even with continued education and knowledge about the risks, distracted driving continues to be a major concern for the trucking industry.