The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration reported that roughly 147,000 people were injured and an additional 39,000 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020. Nearly 5000 of those who lost their lives were involved in crashes with large trucks. The effects of distracted driving can be catastrophic.
Every driver has a responsibility to safety, and anything that takes your focus off the road is a distraction and a safety risk. As a professional driver, you must remain vigilant at all times. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to be safe and reduce risk on the road.
Put down your phone
Cell phones are the number one cause of distraction and there is no reason a driver should be holding a cell phone while driving. Your risk of being involved in an incident increases by more than 23 times while texting, and your eyes are off the roads for more than four seconds. It might not sound like much but it equates to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
Ideally, drivers should completely refrain from cell phone use while driving. But with phone mounts, headsets, and in-truck audio systems today’s drivers have options to prevent cell phone distraction. With a few voice prompts or a button or two on the wheel or the dash display, drivers can easily make and receive calls or texts.
Minimize eating and drinking
Ideally, drivers refrain completely from eating and drinking. Choose to eat or drink during breaks, or before and after your trip. Spills or dropped food cause distractions so it’s best to wait until you are parked.
Set your GPS or plan your route before you start rolling. Trying to navigate through the various screens while driving is nothing but dangerous, so plan ahead and know where you are going. I am in the habit of putting in my route and zooming in on the map to get a clear visual of where I am going, which exits, and the general course for the day. Furthermore, and especially good when venturing to unfamiliar places, use Google Earth to get a visual image of the yards and docks you’ll be backing into.
De-Clutter and get organized
Clutter causes chaos. A messy truck is filled with distractions that draw your eyes off the road. Keeping a clean truck and knowing where to easily locate your necessary items helps keep a clear mind and decrease worry and stress.
Driving while tired plays a role in more than 100,000 crashes each year. Even worrying about how tired you are and whether you can make it to the next safe stop is distracting. It’s vital to your well-being, and your focus on the road, to have a good sleep each night. If you’re tired, stop. It’s that simple.
Stay safe, and stay focused. Lives are depending on you.