Distracted Driving is a Huge Safety Problem for Trucking Companies
Distracted driving is becoming one of the biggest road safety hazards in the United States. Numerous studies have shown that modern technology poses a huge temptation to drivers – hands-free phones, smart watches or other wearable tech, Bluetooth headsets, and even simple texting and driving. One study, conducted by AT&T, showed that three-quarters of drivers chose to text and drive, regardless of the dangers. Another recent study showed that distracted driving, especially texting and driving, is just as deadly as driving under the influence (DUI).
But too many drivers succumb to the temptation, including truck drivers – and that becomes a liability for trucking companies.
“What we don’t want is that truck driver holding that phone up to his ear,” said Michael J. Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association of CT. “That’s distracted driving. That’s dangerous.”
Trucking companies are some of the most vocal advocates for tougher distracted driving laws. Currently, each state varies in its laws and penalties, although most states now have laws against texting and driving.
“We have a lot of stake here,” said Riley. “There’s a moral commitment to doing things safely, there’s an economic component to it all, and we’re proud of what we do and we don’t want to do it in a way that jeopardizes anybody’s safety.”
Enforcement of distracted driving laws can be difficult, due to the prevalence of the harmful practice. One way that states combat the problem is to set up checkpoints, cameras, and police cruisers to catch those breaking the law, especially truck drivers.
“There are studies that say the more proactive we are about enforcing it, the greater it does reduce it,” said Lt. Donald Bridge, a Connecticut DMV Inspector. “The trucks provide a higher platform for the driver so it’s harder to see in there, so we have to take vantage points where we’re up above that and looking down into the cabs.”
“As traffic approaches, we’re looking at everything,” Sgt. Aaron Reimer of the Ohio State Patrol said.
However, Sgt. Reimer says there’s a larger problem with issuing tickets: “The drivers aren’t taking it seriously enough.”
Federal law says that talking on a cell phone is illegal for truck drivers, because it not only causes distracted driving, but the driver takes one hand off the wheel, which means he or she could lose control of the truck. However, because federal law is so strict against truck drivers, thousands of distracted driving accidents involving commercial trucks are actually caused by the other driver.
“Two-thirds of accidents involving commercial vehicles are actually caused by a vehicle other than the commercial vehicle,” Bill Graves with the American Trucking Association said. In Ohio in 2013, there were 10,000 commercial trucks on the roads, and 2,000 distracted driving accidents involving the trucks.
Still, distracted driving catches up to truck drivers too often. “We found that truck drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in one of these safety critical events compared to when they weren’t texting,” said Jeff Hickman, a researcher with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Trucking Accidents Can Cause Serious Injury and Wrongful Death
If you or a loved one has been such a victim, contact the Strom Law Firm, LLC South Carolina trucking accident lawyers. Whether you were injured in a bus accident, tractor trailer accident, or any other commercial vehicle accident, we can help. Contact us today at 803.252.4800.