Any time a driver diverts his full attention away from the task of driving, he is driving while distracted. Distracted driving is a huge problem in the United States today, but it is an especially dangerous problem for truckers. Truck drivers spend long hours and days behind the wheel, and are usually alone. This exacerbates the likelihood that they will get distracted by electronic devices, and even eating and drinking.
Phones are one of the most dangerous distractions for anyone that gets behind the wheel. Phones today are much more than devices that allow us to make calls. Our phones now house our texts, emails, music, books, and provide access to the internet. They are particularly dangerous because they involve all of our senses: they require our hands, eyes, ears, and mind. This leaves very little with which to focus on the road.
Studies show that drivers who text are four times as likely to get in an accident than those who do not. The risks are similar to drinking and driving. In an effort to minimize the serious and often fatal accidents that can result from texting and driving, the Department of Transportation has announced that drivers who pick up their cellphones will be subject to both criminal and civil penalties.
Eating, Drinking, and Smoking
Modern day distractions such as cellphones are not the only ones that truck drivers have to contend with. Because truck drivers spend such long hours behind the wheel, they often eat and drink while they are driving. This may not sound hazardous, but eating is both a physical and visual distraction. Messy foods can especially lead to drivers to divert their physical attention away from the wheel.
Smoking behind the wheel is another distraction, the magnitude of which may not fully be appreciated. Lighting a cigarette requires both hands, and in that moment’s distraction, a serious accident can occur. In fact, almost 13,000 crashes due to smoking have been reported in the past five years.
External distractions can play a part in trucking accidents as well. Simple things such as scenery and billboards can prove to be very distracting when one has been behind the wheel alone for hours on end.
In addition, truck drivers are often required to navigate the streets of new towns and cities. An unfamiliar route can be a dangerous distraction as well. Reliance on maps and navigation systems can take a trucker’s eyes and attention off the road.
The Trucking Accident Attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP Can Help.
Distracted driving is responsible for more and more fatalities on the road each year. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with an 18 wheeler, our attorneys can provide you with the immediate answers you need. Contact us for a free consultation today.