Trucking Safety Tip of the Month: Distracted Driving

distracted driving CMV

Distracted Driving Statistics

There are three types of distracted driving a driver can face while operating his or her vehicle—visual, manual, cognitive.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these three types of distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives in 2015 alone.

This is one of the reasons why Truck Writers’ 2017 blog series is aimed at providing truckers with the information needed to increase safety awareness. While we recognize that roughly 80 percent of crashes involving a truck are caused by passenger vehicles, our country needs the participation of truckers to work toward zero deaths.

Visual Distractions

Visual distractions are those that cause the driver to take his or her eyes off the road. A prime example would be texting while driving, which the FMCSA banned in October 2010.

The FMCSA found that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) are 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who text while driving than for those who do not.

Texting while driving can result in driver disqualification. Additionally, penalties can be up to $2,750 for the driver and up to $11,000 the employer.

Manual Distractions

A manual distraction is one that causes the driver to take his or her hands off the wheel. In addition to texting, an example of a manual distraction would be talking on a hand-held phone.

Research commissioned by FMCSA shows that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) are 6 times greater for CMV drivers who engage in dialing a mobile phone while driving than for those who do not. Therefore, the FMCSA banned the use of hand-held mobile telephones in January 2012.

Fines and penalties for using a hand-held phone while operating a CMV are the same as those assessed for texting and driving.

Cognitive Distractions

When a driver takes his or her mind off driving, they are cognitively distracted. Talking on the phone, even if it’s hands-free, is an example of a cognitive distraction.

In November 2016, Unifi Inc. banned its drivers from hands-free cellphone use while behind the wheel after losing a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

The lawsuit was a result of one of the company’s drivers rear-ending a passenger vehicle that was turning into a driveway. At the time of the accident, Unifi forbade drivers from using hands-free phones for more than two minutes at a time. However, phone records indicated the driver had been using his phone for seven of his eight and a half hour driving shift. The courts ruled that having drivers sign a piece of paper saying they wouldn’t use their phones was not as effective as if the company had spot-checked its drivers’ phone logs.

Check out the 10 Deadliest Driving Distractions.

Truck Writers works with its partners in the transportation industry to develop a safety culture within the workplace. To learn more about Truck Writers’ safety and compliance offerings, click here.

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