Are Distracted Truckers the Greatest Road Menace?

There have been several recent studies tracking how many crashes were the result of distracted driving while talking on a cellphone, texting, using GPS, eating, and conducting other non-driving activities. The findings were that as many as 70% of accidents are caused by distracted driving.

Unfortunately, that same statistic appears to hold true for commercial trucks, which are a far greater menace than light vehicles on the road because of their size and relative potential danger to others in a crash situation. This does not mean that all truck drivers are unsafe, what it does mean however, is that there are a larger number of safety conscious truckers who have a bad reputation due to the few careless ones.

Why Truck Accidents Are Often Deadly

The average sedan weighs about 3,200 lbs. The average semi truck weighs about 80,000 lbs – approximately 250 times more than a regular vehicle.

When traveling at the same speed as that sedan, the truck is generating an enormous amount of force, far more than even a large vehicle like a SUV can withstand. That means any collision is far more likely to be fatal than your average car accident – the passenger vehicle is simply overwhelmed by the sheer mass of the truck

Cell Phones Lead to Crashes

In an extensive study performed to track how distracted driving affected the accident rate of commercial trucks, the numbers were fairly staggering. Non-driving activities caused 71% of crashes, 46.2% of near-crashes, 53% of crash-relevant conflicts, and 77.5% of unintentional lane deviations.

The odds of the tertiary activity that caused a crash being texting on a cell phone were well over twice as great as the next most likely activity; making cell phone usage one of the most dangerous activities a trucker can engage in.

Texting truck drivers were 23.2 more likely to be involved in a safety critical event (Truck Accident) than those who kept their eyes on the road.

Why Do Truck Drivers Text and Drive?

Obviously, it is safest for everyone on the road if all drivers refrain from texting, whether or not they are in control of a large vehicle. However, most drivers vastly overestimate their ability to text and drive without being distracted, and it is very difficult to convince them otherwise. If you’re a trucker and know other drivers like this, please try to talk to them about the threats texting and driving have on the profession and innocent lives.

Furthermore, truckers face an unusual complication in keeping their eyes off their cellphones: often, their fleet managers use text messaging to communicate with them while on the road. Essentially, their job could depend on how promptly they respond to a text – and since their job is also gauged on the speed with which they deliver their goods, the truckers are often in the unfortunate position of needing to respond to texts without losing time in the drive.

How Can the Problem Be Prevented?

Fleet managers should understand the danger to the truckers, other motorists, and the vehicles themselves. They should hold education seminars to drive home the dangers of texting while driving to their truckers, and penalize anyone who is caught using a cell phone while driving. And, naturally, they should stop expecting truckers to respond to text messages when they should be driving.

Unfortunately, not all fleet managers are this responsible, and they will continue to put their drivers and other motorists at risk. We understand that it’s often company policies at fault, and not the truckers who are trying to make a living. If you’re a trucker talk to your fleet managers about the unsafe working conditions that you’re often placed in due to their expectations of texting as a means of confirming a load.

What Can You Do as a Fellow Trucker or Concerned Driver?

If you see a truck driver using a cell phone while driving, pull back immediately and note the license number. If you have been in an accident or near-accident with a large vehicle whose driver was engaging in non-driving behavior, you may be able to take legal action against the company.  If you have been in an accident

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