Destruction and Death: What Happens When a Trucker Loses Focus

There is a reason why many motorists fear driving near semis and tractor-trailers—they’re extremely dangerous. They are very large and difficult to handle; if they become unbalanced they can easily tip over; drivers are known to go several hours without breaks…the list goes on and on.

When you’re forced to drive near a truck, you hope that the driver has all of his attention focused on the road to avoid accidents, but this is not always the case. The truth of the matter is that some truck drivers fail to pay attention to what is going on around them. As a result, these drivers are dangers to themselves and others on the road. Every year, hundreds of thousands of drivers are injured and thousands are killed by distracted drivers.

Trucker Distraction Risks

Distracted driving is driving while focusing on another activity that takes your attention away from driving safely. This includes:

  • Visual distractions: taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual distractions: taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive distractions: focusing your attention on something other than the road

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has performed a comprehensive study on distracted driving, and found that:

  • On average, eight people are killed and 1,160 are injured every day in crashes reported to involve a distracted driver.
  • Nearly one in every five accidents that causes a serious injury involves a distracted driver.
  • Each year, approximately 424,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver
  • While the number of distraction-related crashes and injuries that are work-related is unknown, research suggests that distracted driving is as likely to happen at work as during other types of driving.

Truckers are not exempt from driving distractions and are in fact more susceptible to causing accidents as a result of distractions than normal motorists due to the difficulty of keeping a truck stable and controlled.

Dumping Distractions: How Truck Companies Can Encourage Focus

By imposing a few rules and guidelines, trucking companies can help truckers put their phones down and raise their eyes to the road. These guidelines can include the following:

  • Device restrictions. Companies can create rules that keep in-vehicle devices to a minimum, to prevent distractions from phones, tablets, and the like.
  • Phone answering restrictions. Companies should consider providing their truck drivers with hands-free interfaces on their trucks and encourage drivers to use voice-activated, hands-free devices when they have to make calls. Drivers should furthermore be advised to make calls only when absolutely necessary.
  • Distraction prohibitions. Employers should prohibit drivers from reading, writing, or looking at maps while driving, while also enforce strict policies for breaks and hands-free entertainment (require playlists to be set-up before the driver takes the wheel, providing ports or speakers for music selections, etc.)
  • Dispatcher limitations. Companies should only dispatch to their drivers while they are stopped. Talking on these devices is just as distracting as talking on cell phones.

When distracted truck drivers cause injury or death in truck accidents, they can be liable for money damages in court. If a distracted tractor-trailer driver has injured you or someone you love in a truck accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your rights.

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