According to the National Safety Council (NSC), on average, distracted driving accidents kill eight people and injure hundreds every day, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Distracted driving is no joke, and since April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we thought it was time to highlight some of the risks.
Truckers and other commercial drivers track a lot of time behind the wheel, so it’s easy to let their minds wander, leading to distractions that cause accidents. These safety tips will help those who drive for a living stay alert and keep everyone safe.
1. While Driving, View the Cell Phone as an Emergency Tool Only
Do you think this one should be obvious? We agree, but the desire to answer that text message or social media notification is undeniable.
It’s so easy just to take a peek, believing those brief seconds are safe.
But here’s the truth: a vehicle going 55 mph can travel the length of a football field in about five seconds. And that’s about how long it takes to check a text message. Plus, most vehicles are driving much faster than 55 mph.
University of Utah psychologists found that people who talk on the phone while driving — handheld or hands-free — are as impaired as a drunk driver.
And according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation:
- CMV drivers who dial a phone while driving are six times more likely to be in a safety-critical event (such as an accident, near-accident, or unintentional lane deviation) than those who don’t.
- CMV drivers who text while driving are a whopping 23.2 times more likely to be in a safety-critical event than those who don’t.
You can probably see by now why drivers should stay off of their phones while on the road — especially truck drivers.
Companies should stress the severe risk of using phones while driving. They should also have drivers only use their phones for emergency purposes while on the road. (And even then, drivers should pull onto the shoulder for phone calls.)
Also, any socializing should wait until the vehicle is stopped, parked, and off. Drivers can then make phone calls, answer texts, check social media, and do other fun stuff.
2. Shut Down or Silence Technology Before Driving
Since cell phones are a primary distraction risk, our second tip is also phone-related.
To avoid the temptation of checking texts and other notifications, it’s best to power things down — or at least silence them — before getting back on the road.
Drivers can turn off notifications in their phone settings so that nothing pops up to distract them. They can also delete social media apps while they’re on the road, then add them back when they’re done with their shift.
3. Be Mindful of Distracting Objects Outside of Your Vehicle
Another distracted driving safety tip is to be aware of distractions on the road like:
- Other people
- Traffic accidents
When you’ve been driving for a while, little things can grab your attention. Your mind can wander when it gets bored and wants something exciting. But drivers should be careful to keep their eyes and attention on driving tasks.
4. Avoid Distractions Inside the Vehicle, Too
Details inside the truck can also be incredibly distracting. We’re talking about:
- GPS systems
- Items in the floorboards
- Food or drink items
- Other people or pets in the vehicle
It’s best to account for these things before starting a shift. As much as possible, drivers should take care of personal grooming, eating, drinking, and other distracting actions before getting on the road. Also, keeping the vehicle tidy will prevent loose items or other distractions on the seats and floors.
5. Make Sure Drivers Stick to Hours of Service
Lastly, employers should follow FMCSA regulations for how long drivers can be on the road without a break. This is non-negotiable, as under-rested drivers put everyone (including themselves) at risk. Respect is one of the things drivers want most from their employers, and that includes guidelines that allow them to stay safe.
Overall, the best safety tip for distracted driving is to limit all distracting activities. If something is too much of a problem, take care of it before or after driving — not during.