Driving a semi-truck or large commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is a huge task that requires focus. It takes training, skill and attentive driving to operate a truck safely. There’s a reason why a driver is required to maintain a commercial driver’s license follow state and federal regulations. Consider the size of the vehicle, its weight, its gearing capabilities, its width and its overall abilities. The driver needs to be aware of his actions on the road and how it affects other drivers. When a truck driver decides to multitask while driving, it causes distractions with catastrophic consequences.
Distracted driving puts you, your passengers, and fellow drivers at a significantly greater risk of an accident.
Visual, Manual and Cognitive Distractions
When understanding distracted driving, it is important to consider the three different types of distracted driving: visual, manual and cognitive. You’ve heard it before. Eyes on the road. Hands on the wheel. Focus on driving.
- Visual Distractions: Taking your eyes off the road
- Manual Distractions: Taking your hands on the wheel
- Cognitive Distractions: Taking your mind off of driving
Many Ways a Truck Driver Can Get Distracted While Driving
Common everyday activities like texting, talking on the phone, and eating food, have all been found to be major distractions to drivers. However, using your cell phone while driving could possibly be the worst distraction because it simultaneously involves visual, manual and cognitive distractions.
Truck Drivers and Cell Phones
Many drivers find driving tedious and boring, so they turn to the mobile phones to send text messages or take calls. With text messages, your eyes and concentration is not on the road. Depending on the intensity of the text message that you are reading and then replying to, you could take your eyes off the road for 10, 20 or 30 seconds. This is ample time to cause a collision. Speaking on a mobile phone may seem harmless because you are looking straight ahead at the road. You tend to concentrate more on what the person is saying to you on the mobile phone than what is happening on the road.
Increase in use of cell phones while driving
The dangers of texting among driver while on the road have been more and more in the public eye as officials attempt to raise awareness of the number of accidents caused by drivers distracted by texting on cell phones. Statistics show that:
- Truck drivers who text are 23 percent more likely to experience a crash or near-crash situation.
- Drivers who text leave their lanes 10 percent more of the time than they do when not driving.
- It takes a driver twice as long to react to an incident and come to a stop while texting than if not texting.
- It may seem obvious, but playing video games while driving is a serious risk.
Eating while driving
They may be hungry and decide to have lunch while driving. This action of eating and drinking would cause the driver to take his eyes off the road for a few seconds while grabbing the burger or the drink. This may seem innocent but consider that with each bite and sip, their eyes is taken off the road. Those few seconds become multiple seconds of distractions.
Drinking and driving
On February 17th, 2017 near Kansas City in Platte City, MO, forty-one-year-old Adam Shaw pleaded guilty Friday to involuntary manslaughter in the October 2013 death of 49-year-old Catherine Nienaber. Shaw was driving a semi truck while drinking in 2013 and was sentenced in 2017. While the vast majority of truck drivers don’t drink and drive, it does happen.
Exceeding the stipulated hours of service
Driving while tired is a common factor in the fatal truck and commercial vehicle wrecks. While the FMCSA’s Hours-of-Service rule requires truck drivers to take a sleep break after 11 hours of driving, many truckers prefer to drive at night, when roads are less crowded, and of course, people get tired at night. That’s our biology. Note that the FMCSA’s HOS rule allows commercial drivers to reset their weekly limit by taking a 34-hour break. But that cuts into earnings, so drivers may try to cut corners. Studies show that more than half of the commercial motor vehicle drivers violate the stipulated regulations pertaining to hours of service.
Using a satellite navigation system in a semi-truck
Navigation systems are designed to be easy to use, but always recommended to setup while pulled over or before you depart. Otherwise, setting it up at 70 MPH, will distract the truck driver. It’s best to set the coordinates or the destination address when the truck has stopped. Trying to insert an address while driving will take your eyes off the road and could lead to an accident.
Any form of distraction is not acceptable while driving any vehicle, especially a truck. Some drivers also get distracted by the images or digits on the dashboard, or they think about when the next service is due and what truck parts should be replaced. Keep your mind and eyes focussed on the road at all times while driving to ensure a safer journey.
Driving a semi-truck while distracted has consequences
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that more than nine people are killed every day due to problems caused by erratic and distracted driving. Recently, the CDC performed a study on distracted driving involving talking on the phone and texting. The study concluded that 69 percent of U.S. drivers between 18 and 64 years of age reported talking on a cellphone while driving within the last 30 days. Thirty-one percent also reported having sent or read a text message while driving in the past thirty days. This shows that the number of truck drivers in Kansas and Missouri using cell phones while driving is on the increase. Fortunately, though this epidemic is growing rapidly, federal regulations have been enacted to prevent such cases.
Federal laws on the use of cell phones for truck drivers
To help reduce the increasing number of accidents on the roads, different states have passed laws that make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving. The US Department of Transportation has thereby banned truck and bus drivers from using their cell phones while operating commercial vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds. Drivers are not allowed to text or make a call when on the road. Under these regulations, any driver who violates these laws will be prosecuted. Those who will be found guilty of violating these regulations will be subject to civil or criminal sentences including fines up to $2,750.00. Currently, the Transportation Department is working on a law that would restrict the use of in-vehicle computers that truck or commercial vehicle drivers use to communicate with dispatchers.
Focus on Driving
To foster safety of all the other road users, you should focus on driving as much as possible whenever you are behind the wheel. If you must text or talk on your cell phone while driving, remember to pull over in a safe area and hold your conversation without becoming a danger to others on the road. If you must carry on a text message conversation over a long period of time, have a passenger do the texting for you. Or, pull over and text the other person to let them know you are driving and cannot safely respond.
Get legal help if you’ve been injured by a distracted truck driver
Call the Law Offices of Peter A. Jouras, Jr. if you’ve been injured by a distracted truck driver in Missouri or Kansas. Trucking accident lawyers in kansas city specialize in helping individuals injured by distracted drivers, distracted truck drivers and people who have been injured by someone else’s negligence.
Call (913) 677-1999 now.