Distracted driving plays a major role in car accidents, which is why most states have a ban on texting while driving. Some states go further than others – in fact, in some states even talking on the phone is prohibited. Minimizing distractions is essential to maintaining our safety, as thousands incur injury from distracted driving each year. This especially applies to commercial truck drivers, as accidents involving commercial vehicles often lead to serious, permanently disabling injury or fatality. Fortunately, there are several techniques commercial truck drivers can employ to reduce their risk of causing an accident.
Put Your Phone Away
In the era of smartphones, keeping in touch with our mobile devices is second nature. We may always keep our devices close so we can check on texts, engage on social media, or navigate with GPS. When you’re operating a commercial motor vehicle, however, using a smartphone can prove disastrous. Texting and driving, for example, will make you 23 times more likely to be involved in what the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration calls a “safety-critical” event, which includes lane deviations, near-accidents, or accidents.
Sending a text takes an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this means a driver may travel the length of a football field without looking at the road. In fact, using a phone on the road is so dangerous that the FMCSA also has rules restricting how truckers can dial a phone while operating a commercial motor vehicle.
When driving, err on the safe side and avoid temptation; keep your phone out of reach. Pull over if you need to send a text or answer a phone call.
Maintain Your Focus
People often fail to realize that distracted driving is anything that takes your attention off the road. This may include personal grooming, talking on the phone, fiddling with the radio, or even talking to a passenger. Take steps to minimize any distractions:
- Take care of all personal grooming needs before leaving each day.
- Plug your route into GPS before hitting the highway.
- Finish all personal calls before beginning a shift.
When on the road, maintain your focus by actively scanning and using your truck’s mirrors. Drive defensively and resist the temptation to multitask.
Prepare Smart Snacks
Driver fatigue can play a large role in distracted driving. Taking frequent breaks and eating smart snacks can help keep your energy level up and combat fatigue. The FMCSA sets rules for breaks and sleep for a reason. When taking a break or refueling, choose snacks that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates, not sugar. Sugar may make you feel better for a while, but an inevitable drop in blood sugar follows, which can make your fatigue worse.
Over a third of truck drivers have reported falling asleep or nodding off behind the wheel – get plenty of rest and take breaks when you need them, as concentration helps prevent accidents.
Distracted driving can lead to devastating accidents, but commercial vehicle operators can help mitigate their risk. Follow these tips to reduce accidents and enjoy a safe trip.