Truckers and distraction – a dangerous combination

3953254_sTruck drivers play an important role in the transportation of goods and materials throughout the country. Every day, dozens of 18-wheelers can be seen on the highways around Las Vegas traveling to their next destination. The drivers of these large commercial vehicles go through special training in order to learn how to operate these big rigs safely. While many truck drivers act responsibly, others engage in behaviors that can cause serious truck accidents.

Dangerous behaviors

A police officer was killed in Arizona when a truck driver from Arizona crashed into a group of emergency vehicles, according to The Huffington Post. Video from the truck’s dash camera showed the trucker looking at his cell phone when the accident occurred. Records further revealed that the driver was looking at pictures of scantily clad women on Facebook and other Internet sites. It is estimated that he hit the vehicles at 65 miles per hour and that he tried to hide his actions from the dash camera by covering his phone with his wallet. There is no indication that the driver saw the parked vehicles before the crash occurred.

Just a few months prior to this accident, another collision in Maryland was attributed to truck driver negligence. The driver was crossing a bridge over the bay when he was distracted by flashing lights in his rear mirror. The trucker failed to see traffic slow to a crawl in front of him and hit two vehicles, pushing one of them over the side of the bridge and into the water below. The victim managed to get out but struggled with emotional and mental trauma from the experience.

Federal study

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration presented a report in 2009 to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The report was based on an examination of studies conducted on truck drivers and distraction and presented the following recommendations:

  • Fleet managers need to emphasize the dangers of drivers engaging in distractive behaviors.
  • Drivers should not use maps in any way while driving.
  • Instrument panels should be redesigned to decrease the amount of time truckers take their eyes off of the road.
  • Dispatch devices should not be used while driving; fleet managers should educate drivers on the dangers associated with using them.
  • More policies need to be created addressing driver distraction.

The report also pointed out that texting and driving should not be allowed by commercial truck drivers. In 2010 and 2011, the FMCSA officially issued a ban on texting and hand-held cell phones, respectively. FMCSA also encourages truck drivers to avoid behaviors such as eating, drinking, smoking, staring at external objects and reading while driving.