When a truck driver is on the road, your hope is that they’re paying attention and are prepared to safely reach their destination. You expect that they are well-rested and that they don’t have distractions that are keeping them from doing their job well.
Common distractions that truck drivers tend to face include:
Using a cellphone
Using dispatching devices
Changing the radio station
Eating behind the wheel
Looking at a person outside the vehicle
Reading a billboard
Unfortunately, these distractions are significant enough that crashes have been caused by them. Anything that takes a person’s mind off the road for even a few seconds is enough to potentially cause a serious or fatal collision.
How many truck crashes really involve distractions?
Thousands of truck crashes involve distractions, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. After collecting data for three years, the two administrations found that around 11,000 truck crashes across the United States could be linked to external distractions (distractions outside the vehicle).
Another study found that up to 80% of all truck crashes involved drivers being inattentive in some way in the three seconds before a crash, or near crash, occurred.
It’s not surprising that people get distracted. There are distractions all around them. What is more surprising is that people don’t do more to prevent those distractions from harming themselves or others.
What can drivers do to stay attentive?
It’s a good habit to put away devices, to input GPS routes while parked and to focus on the road ahead. If there is a significant distraction, refocusing long enough to park is essential. Even just a few seconds of distractions could lead to a dangerous collision, so it’s necessary to take steps to remove distractions from the cabin and to refocus when external stimuli pull away your attention.
If you are hit, remember that the at-fault driver may need to cover your injuries. Others may also be liable, which is something to look into.