Distracted driving among commercial truck drivers is a dangerous behavior that can lead to a catastrophic truck crash. It is also a chief cause for concern of fleet managers and other professionals who supervise them.
J.J. Keller & Associates is a nationwide consultant on safety issues. In April its research arm released the findings of a survey of trucking fleet managers (“The State of Fleet Management — Insights on Today’s Fleet Manager”) that revealed safety is generally a top worry for this management group.
The study also revealed that there is a big gap between this management-level unease over safety and a how it is addressed on the road by truck drivers.
The fleet managers, surveyed between November and December 2020, were asked for their top concern. The most common answer was truckers who are driving distracted.
Fatal Distracted Driving Crashes
The dangers of distracted driving are not limited to commercial truckers. In April the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its most recent report on distracted driving; according to the (NHTSA) report:
· 3,142 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2019
· Distracted driving crashes accounted for 9% of all fatal crashes in 2019
The report did not break out crashes caused by distracted truckers specifically but given the size and weight of the commercial rigs, these wrecks likely are more serious than most of those involving only passenger vehicles.
Fleet managers appear to worry most that their truckers don’t know how to avoid distracted driving. Cell phone use is a top distraction for all drivers. Federal law bans commercial over-the-road truckers from using their cell phones in hand-held mode while behind the wheel.
Other top fleet manager concerns regarding truck drivers include how truckers:
· Safely operate their rigs
· Carry out and document vehicle inspections
· Comply with hours-of-service rules
· Use electronic logging devices
The first two items point to two major causes of truck crashes: driver error and faulty tractor-trailer maintenance.
Common Causes of Deadly Truck Accidents
The 2006 federal “Large Truck Crash Causation Study” is the most comprehensive review to date of what causes big-rig crashes. It found that dangerous driving behavior was the number one contributing factor. Examples of this behavior included:
· Following too closely
· Driving too fast for conditions
The study also pointed to defective truck brakes – which should be found in routine inspections and properly scheduled maintenance of trucking fleets – as a common cause of large truck crashes.
The fleet manager survey helps to amplify one key point. While truckers are largely responsible for carefully operating and maintaining their rigs, fleet managers also have an oversight role for ensuring their drivers and their 18-wheelers are safe when on the road, that drivers comply with federal regulations including those governing hours of service, and that they follow the rules of the road.
If you were seriously hurt or lost a family member in a crash with a semi-truck, turn to a truck accident attorney experienced in conducting truck crash investigations and dealing with uncooperative trucking companies.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog June 21, 2021