Did you know that in the U.S. nine people die each day as a result of distracted driving? 80% of all car accidents are caused by distracted driving. 16% of all traffic related fatalities are caused by distracted drivers. The National Safety Council reports that cell phone usage causes 1.6 million car crashes in the US each year. Knowing this, how can we avoid distracted driving and what exactly is it?
There are three types of distracted driving
- Visual: Taking your eyes off the road.
- Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: Focusing on other things than driving, letting your mind wander
To type and send an average text, it takes nearly five seconds. When traveling at the rate of 55 miles per hour, during those five seconds, you will have traveled the distance of a football field. That’s a large distance to travel without looking at the road.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has listed these 6 Tips to help your drivers manage distracted driving. Check them out:
1. Do not let objects outside of your truck distract you
When driving, stay focused on the job of driving your truck. You should avoid focusing on things outside of your truck that aren’t related to driving. This includes things like billboards, buildings, and people. Remember, anything taking your eyes away from driving is distracted driving and can be dangerous. Paying attention only to things that are related to driving will help keep you aware of the road and cars around you and will help make sure you are ready to react to anything unexpected.
2. Do not text while driving
Texting while driving is illegal for CMV drivers. Texting is an easy way to keep in touch with people. Yet, texting can also be one of the most dangerous distractions in your truck. Texting takes your eyes, hands, and mind off the job of driving. In order to read or send a text message, you must look at the phone. This takes your eyes off the road. You must use the buttons on the phone to open or write a message, which takes at least one hand off the steering wheel. You must read or think about what you are going to write, which takes your mind off the road.
3. Do not use dispatching devices while driving
Dispatching devices let you and your dispatchers communicate, can help you navigate, and can help keep your logs. These devices are sometimes called mobile or portable data terminals and can help make your job easier. Although a message on the dispatching device might seem urgent, using a dispatching device while driving can be dangerous. This is because the dispatching device can take your eyes, hands, and mind away from driving safely, causing distracted driving. Since using a dispatching device while driving raises your risk of a crash, many companies have policies in place or lock out features when the truck is moving. Using a dispatching device is “texting for truckers.”
4. Do not dial a handheld phone while driving
Handheld cell phones involve multiple types of distractions and using them while driving is illegal for CMV drivers. Handheld phones can take your eyes and hands away from the road, causing distracted driving. Dialing a handheld cell phone requires you to take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. If you have to make a call while driving, find a safe place to stop and keep your call short. Or, consider a voice-activated hands-free phone or phone app. Phones that do not require you to hold them while dialing a number or talking can help keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Most smartphones either have this hands-free ability or have apps available to provide it.
5. Do not read, write, or use paper maps while driving
Printed directions, notes to yourself, and maps are a normal part of your job. However, reading or writing while you are driving is a much bigger risk than you might think. Reading a map while driving increases your risk of being in a crash. This is because both reading and writing take your eyes off the road ahead of you. If you need to read something or write yourself a note, the safest thing to do is pull over. Never read, even a map, or write while you are driving!
6. Avoid eating and drinking while driving
Sometimes you may feel like driving is the only time you have to eat or drink. But you may not realize that eating while driving can be dangerous. Eating while driving can take your eyes off the road. It always takes at least one of your hands off the wheel. Always try to eat or drink before getting behind the wheel or leave time to pull over and eat.
Distractions on the road are ever-increasing, so it’s very important you remain focused on the road. While it’s important you stay on time and deliver goods by the assigned deadlines, it’s never so important that you drive while you’re distracted. Stay safe out there.
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