This month was Distracted Driving Awareness Month, an annual occurrence sponsored by the National Safety Council (NSC). You’re probably thinking: Shouldn’t people be concerned with safe driving every month? The answer is a resounding “Yes.” Safety should be a focus every day for anyone who takes to the road.
Still, it’s a great idea to take 30 days to focus on what undoubtedly has become an epidemic of American roadways: distracted driving due to cell phone use, particularly texting. Today, 45 states ban texting while driving, as does the District of Columbia. And it’s illegal to use a cell phone without a hands-free headset in 14 states plus the District. (To find out which states ban what, please visit the Governors Highway Association website for a comprehensive list.)
Since distracted drivers are such a concern for today’s truck drivers (you never know when a compact with a texting teenager in the driver’s seat might veer in front of you as you’re merging onto the Interstate), the American Trucking Association (ATA) got behind the NSC’s agenda, issuing a press release with some pretty telling statistics gathered by ATA’s America’s Road Team:
- Writing or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 MPH, that’s like driving the length of a football field — blindfolded.
- If you text while you’re behind the wheel, you’re 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a non-distracted driver.
- Talking on a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity devoted to driving by 37%.
- Young people are especially at risk: In 2011, 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
Safety Tips for Truck Drivers
So what’s a truck driver to do when many drivers out there continue to ignore these statistics? Well, ATA has some defensive driving tips that can help you do what you can to keep safe. Since you can’t control other people, all you can really do is check yourself. No doubt you know all of these, but here’s a reminder in the spirit of affirming that it’s important to drive safe every day:
- Stay Focused – Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
- Put Electronics Away – Put your cell phone away, as well as any other peripheral electronics, when you’re behind the wheel.
- Plan Your Trip – Plan your route ahead of time so you aren’t distracted by looking at a map or a navigation system.
- Be Aware of Blind Spots – Do your best to keep other drivers out of your blind spots.
- Be a Good Passenger – If you’re a mentor or a team member, speak up if your driver is distracted!
For more safety tips for truck drivers from the ATA, please visit their website.
No doubt you have tips of your own, too. If you feel like sharing, please leave a Comment.