Among driver-related factors, distracted driving is the second-leading cause of commercial truck accidents. This includes distractions such as eating and drinking, keeping driver logs, navigating, and – increasingly – talking on the phone and texting behind the wheel. There have even been reports of truck drivers watching movies on their smartphones and other mobile devices while driving on the highway.
Recognizing the dangers that distracted truck drivers present not only to themselves, but to the other motorists and passengers with whom they share the road as well, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a list of six tips for truck drivers to avoid distractions that can lead to serious accidents. While certainly not exhaustive, this list covers several common causes of truck accidents that will often entitle victims to seek financial compensation:
“TIP #1: Do Not Let Objects Outside of Your Truck Distract You”
Risk: External distractions such as billboards can distract truck drivers from the road in front of them.
At highway speeds, an 18-wheeler or tractor trailer can travel the length of a football field in a matter of seconds. With their extreme size and weight, it takes these trucks longer to stop than other vehicles. If a truck driver gets distracted by something on the side of the road, he or she can easily cause a rear-end collision.
“TIP #2: Do Not Text While Driving”
Risk: Texting is currently one of the most prevalent – and most dangerous – forms of distracted driving.
Studies have shown that texting behind the wheel makes a truck driver 23 times more likely to cause an accident. Texting is particularly dangerous because it takes truck drivers’ hands off of the wheel and takes their eyes and minds off of the road. The FMCSA banned commercial drivers from texting in 2009.
“TIP #3: Do Not Use a Dispatching Device While Driving”
Risk: Truck drivers who are focused on communicating with dispatch are not focused on their surroundings.
According to data reported by the FMCSA, communicating with dispatch while driving makes truck drivers nine times more likely to be involved in a “safety-critical event.”
“TIP #4: Do Not Dial a Handheld Phone While Driving”
Risk: Handheld phone use causes both manual and cognitive distractions.
Talking on the phone impairs drivers’ ability to recognize and react to dangerous situations around them. Drivers who are talking on the phone are also more likely to overcorrect their steering when faced with an emergency situation. Importantly, recent studies have shown that hands-free calling is just as dangerous as talking on a handheld phone.
“TIP #5: Do Not Read, Write, or Use Paper Maps While Driving”
Risk: Similar to texting, these activities involve all three types of driver impairments: manual, cognitive and visual.
When truck drivers are looking at maps or logging their hours, they are not doing any of the things they are supposed to be doing behind the wheel (namely, steering and paying attention to the road). Research has shown that truck drivers who are writing or looking at maps are seven to eight times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash incident.
“TIP #6: Avoid Eating and Drinking When Driving”
Risk: At least one study has found that eating while driving is more dangerous than talking on the phone.
Perhaps two of the original forms of distracted driving, eating and drinking continue to be major distractions for truck drivers who spend long hours on the road. Due to the risks involved with eating behind the wheel, the FMCSA recommends that truck drivers pull over any time they need a bite to eat.
Have You Been Injured or Lost a Loved One in a Truck Accident? Speak With a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer for Free
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident in the greater Houston, TX area, the attorneys at Morrow & Sheppard LLP can help you fight for just compensation. To learn about your rights, call (800) 489-2216 or request a free consultation online today.