A topic that has gotten a lot of attention from the trucking community and the population at large is distracted driving. There are dire warnings about texting and driving – you’ve probably seen some billboards or a TV commercial imploring people to put their phones down and drive. There’s a good reason for this. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), there were over 3,400 deaths caused by texting and driving in 2015. 390,000 more were injured in distracted driving accidents. Add to that a statistic from the CDC – 9 people are killed and 1,000 are injured every day in distracted driving accidents – and it’s enough to make you pause.
The point is this: distracted driving is dangerous. The statistics prove that. As a trucker, you spend hours upon hours on the roads. The highway is your workplace. And the thing is, driving requires your full attention to be on the road. If the statistics weren’t enough to convince you, let’s take a look at some more reasons that distracted driving is so dangerous, especially as a truck driver.
Whether or not you’re paying attention, the truck will keep moving.
If your foot is on the gas pedal, the truck is going to go. Even if your eyes aren’t on the road. Even if your mind is elsewhere. And the truck doesn’t know if there’s something in your path. It doesn’t know that it shouldn’t hit other cars. It’ll just do what you tell it to do.
Just like speeding and drowsy driving, texting and driving increases your chance of being in an accident. When you read or send a text message, your eyes are off the road for about five seconds. Take a second and count to five slowly. One-one hundred, two-one hundred…Would you shut your eyes for that long and keep driving? Probably not because that would be terrifying.
If you’re going 50 miles an hour, you’ll travel 367 feet in that time – that’s the length of a football field, plus a third of another football field. And who knows what could happen in that time? Traffic could slow down. Someone could veer in front of you. You might drift out of your lane because you’re not focused.
Okay, here’s another thing to think about:
Even if you’re only going 50 miles per hour, you can travel the length of two and a half basketball courts (220 feet) in three seconds. Okay, but what if you just glance down? Well, your truck can go 75 feet in just one second if you’re going 50 mph. And in that time, you could end up causing an accident if you leave your lane or fail to slow down. The damage that your truck could cause to another vehicle (well, more importantly, the people inside it) is extremely sobering. Just a simple text can have such dire consequences.
Texting and driving is a choice. You can choose to leave your phone alone while you’re behind the wheel. You can consciously decide not to engage in a risky driving behavior. So, for your sake and the sake of other drivers on the road, don’t text and drive.
Texting and driving is illegal for CMV drivers.
The other thing to note about cell phone use while driving a truck or another commercial vehicle?
It’s super illegal.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has banned the use of handheld cell phones for drivers of commercial vehicles because of how dangerous it is. That means truck drivers cannot hold a phone to their ear to talk, text, or dial a call using more than one button. The FMCSA handheld cellphone ban applies any time a truck is on a roadway, including when the vehicle is stopped in traffic or at a red light.
The consequences of violating this ban are severe:
- The driver could face fines of $2,750
- Businesses that allow or require drivers to use a handheld phone or text while driving could be fined $11,000
- The driver could be disqualified by the FMCSA or the state (for multiple offenses)
- Getting the maximum severity of penalty on the Safety Measurement System (SMS)
Should you need to text someone or call them, pull over and park your truck safely. That way you’re not endangering yourself or others.
Distracted driving and your truck insurance rates.
Here’s the other thing about distracted driving:
Texting and driving can cause your insurance rates to go up. If you’re in an accident, you’re seen as being more of a risk to insure. And that means your truck insurance rates could be a lot higher than you were hoping. By driving safely and putting the phone aside, you’re lowering your chance of being in an accident – and that means that you could keep your insurance rates from increasing and ultimately save money on truck insurance. The fewer accidents and tickets on your record, the better your insurance rates.
When you’re on the road, there are a lot of things that we can’t control. After all, you have no say in the actions of the other drivers who are sharing the roads with you. You can’t make the rain stop or the traffic go away. But this is one thing that’s really easy to control. Make the choice to put your phone away and concentrate on driving – it’s for the sake of your own safety and the safety of the other drivers on the road.
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