Danger Ahead: Distracted Driving In The Trucking Industry
Have you ever quickly checked your mobile phone just to see who texted you? Have you ever replied back? Even something as simple as checking your appearance in the rearview mirror may seem benign, but the risk of taking your eyes off the road remains the same.
Here’s a hard and fast definition for you: Anything that takes a driver’s attention away from driving is classified as distracted driving. Looking away from the road, taking your hands off the wheel, and any activity that pulls your focus away from traffic and those you share the road with is considered distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Statistics
In 2015, distracted driving killed 3,477 people and injured a whopping 391,000. An AT&T study suggested that as many as 70% of drivers in the USA use their smartphones behind the wheel. A shocking 40% of drivers check social media while driving, 30% surf the internet, and 10% even go so far as to video chat while driving. In fact, a person texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause a car accident than drunk driving. These are scary numbers.
The Biggest Culprits Of Distracted Driving
We’re not here to point fingers but, at one time or another, we’re pretty certain that every truck driver has been guilty of at least one of these offences while driving:
- Brushing your hair
- Eating and drinking
- Applying makeup
- Navigating with a GPS system
- Operating a car radio or audio device
SmartDrive recently released new data-based findings in April 2017, which indicate just how risky and costly distracted drivers can be. According to SmartDrive, the data “clearly demonstrates that the most distracted drivers are less safe overall, commit significantly more fundamental driving errors, and drive faster than the speed limit compared to all other drivers.” They also waste more fuel. None of this spells good news for carriers and fleet operators.
SmartDrive SmartIQ Snapshot Trucking Statistics
Statistics from this study show the following dismal numbers:
- The most distracted drivers are 36% more likely to be involved in a near collision than all other drivers.
- The most distracted drivers are 84% more likely than other drivers to roll through a stop sign or red light. Those most distracted by a mobile device are 2.5 times more likely to not stop.
- The most distracted drivers are 87% more likely to drive 10 mph or more over the speed limit. But if they are distracted by a mobile device, they are nearly 3 times more likely than all other drivers to drive 10 mph or more over the speed limit.
- The most distracted drivers drift out of their lane almost 2 times more frequently than all other drivers. This number increases to 2.3 times more than all other drivers for those most distracted by a mobile device.
- The most distracted drivers waste more fuel, resulting in 6% lower mpg than other drivers. This number increases to more than 8% when most distracted by a mobile device.
Distracted Driving Penalties For Truck Drivers
Drivers can be fined close to $2800 and repeat offences result in the driver being banned from driving for up to 120 days — this can be extremely detrimental to a truck driver who makes a living on the road. The driver’s employer can also be fined up to $11,000 if they knowingly allow or require drivers to use handheld devices while driving. Violations will also negatively affect the employer’s Safety Measurement System ratings and penalties are taken from existing FCMSA guidelines.
Distracted Driving Prevention for Truckers
As you can clearly see, the risks and penalties just aren’t worth it. Here are some simple tips for preventing distracted driving that drivers and carriers can follow:
- Carriers, this one is for you: Establish firm rules with your drivers that distracted driving is unacceptable.
Keep your mobile phone in the glove box to remove texting temptation.
- Ensure your GPS has your correct coordinates before beginning your journey.
- Tune in to your favorite radio station before you head out of the road.
- Hungry? Do yourself a favor and be sure to pull over when it’s time to eat.
Be sure to check out our blog for more trucking industry news and trends from the team at Thunder Funding!
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