Top Driving Distractions for Commercial Truckers

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Federal rules prohibit over-the-road truck drivers from distractions such as using handheld cell phones for calling or texting while on the road.  Yet, distracted truck drivers continue to be a significant threat.

Many commercial truck drivers may be ignoring the federal rules that require them to use their cell phones in voice-activated fashion.  Or it may also be that big rig truckers are dangerously distracted by many other things besides only cell phones.

In its April 2020 report, “Distracted Driving 2018,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that nearly 2,900 people were killed by distracted drivers in 2018; the most recent year final data are available.  In total, 8% of all people killed in traffic accidents that year died in distracted driving crashes.

Cell phone use accounted for 14% of those distracted-driving crash deaths.

The NHTSA report did not break out fatal truck crashes involving distracted drivers.  But another source recently claimed that distracted driving is a major concern for truck drivers.  That source is the truckers themselves.

Also in April, Netradyne, a company that supplies artificial technology to the commercial trucking industry, released the findings of an online poll of commercial truck drivers.  Harris Interactive conducted the online survey in February and March.

Drinking and Other Leading Truck Driver Distractions

Of the 350 commercial truckers surveyed, 81% - eight out of every 10 – said they felt distracted driving is increasing.

When asked what are their leading driving distractions, the truck drivers gave these as the top five:

  • Drinking liquids
  • Events happening outside the truck
  • Looking at a GPS device
  • Adjusting the truck cab audio
  • Fiddling with vehicle controls

Cell phone use was not listed as a top distraction perhaps because the truckers didn’t want to admit to violating any federal restrictions.  Or perhaps the federal prohibitions of hand-held cell phone use are making a difference.

Truckers Violating Federal Cell Phone Use Ban

But according to a previous study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, (“Driver Distraction in Commercial Vehicle Operation”), it is important to remember:

  • Commercial truckers dialing a cell phone are six times more likely to crash
  • Commercial truck drivers texting and driving are 23 times more like to crash

When asked for the most serious distraction the truckers experienced – meaning which had the most dire potential or actual consequences – 71% of the truckers said using social media or surfing the net.

So perhaps hand-held cell phone use by commercial truckers is not a frequent distraction, but when it causes them to crash the results often are catastrophic.

But even the hands-free communication truckers use while driving can be dangerous.  The second most severe distraction, according to the truck drivers polled, is video chatting.  Nearly another 70% of truckers who have done video chats while driving said it was distracting.

Part of the truck driver poll included asking them what they do to limit distracted driving.  The top answers were:

  • Setting the GPS prior to driving – 59%
  • Setting the music for the entire trip before departing – 55%

So some commercial truckers are taking the dangers of distracted driving to heart and taking commonsense actions to prevent distracted driving truck crashes. But still many truckers on the road are not, putting other drivers and their families in grave risk.

If you were seriously hurt or a family member died in a crash with a commercial truck, speak with a truck accident lawyer to conduct a thorough investigation to pursue just compensation from all responsible parties.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Articles May 26, 2020

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