Professional truck drivers know that there are many issues that can lead to accidents on the nation's highways and byways. However, perhaps the most pervasive is the amount of distracted driving that seems to be increasingly taking place these days. Whether it's drivers checking their texts while driving or simply taking a phone call, even a brief bout of inattention can have disastrous consequences.
Government statistics show that distracted driving leads to an average of more than 1,000 injuries and nine deaths on the road every day, according to Birmingham, Alabama, television station WBMA. Unfortunately, such actions aren't just the realm of millennials checking their phones while operating a vehicle, but covers any range of activities undertaken by people of all ages.
"I've seen people with newspapers on their steering wheels driving down the interstate - turning the pages of the newspaper," long-time trucker Tommy Giles told the station. "I have seen people changing clothes, driving down the interstate. I wish people would understand that it's only one moment's mistake out here on the road that can create a terrible tragedy."
A common problem
Of course, it's not just everyday drivers who are frequently guilty of all types of distracted driving, according to Brauns Law. All too often, truckers themselves engage in such behavior as well. Data shows that truckers who text behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to get into an accident. However, many do it anyway, despite the fact that it opens them up to risk of an accident and penalties in the thousands of dollars. It may also lead to license suspension.
Truckers may have unique distraction risks that other drivers do not, including trying to adjust their GPS machines, checking their logs, eating or drinking, and so on, the report said. Some have even been known to do paperwork while driving, which is never a good idea.
With more distracted driving issues grabbing headlines these days, trucking companies are going above and beyond government regulations to tackle the problem, according to Omaha, Nebraska, television station KMTV. Not only might drivers for some freight firms face the kinds of civil and criminal penalties described above, but many could also face firing even if they don't lose their license, on the first offense, without any sort of warning system in place.
In addition, companies try to curb the practice by making drivers take safety training courses on a regular basis, but also by providing drivers who keep their records free of any accidents (related to distracted driving or otherwise) with significant financial bonuses, the report said. While most truckers are already going to comply with these rules, the added incentive could help curb these risky behaviors.
When companies have great incentive programs, in addition to strong hourly pay and high-quality benefits packages, they are far more likely to both attract and retain drivers on an ongoing basis. That may be especially true as the driver shortage continues to create competition among shippers for a relatively small pool of pro haulers.
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