In the midst of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it’s easy to overlook the many commercial drivers and operators that we travel amongst everyday. Distracted driving isn’t just about teens using their smartphones while driving. It affects all of us and involves any person operating a moving vehicle whether they are a private citizen or a commercial driver.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration prohibits commercial drivers from using a cell phone while driving, and most states either prohibit all drivers from talking on the phone or require them to use hands-free devices. Many companies that employ commercial drivers also have policies against cell phone use. In spite of all this, the sad reality is some drivers still engage in distracted driving behaviors. Even though commercial drivers are trained and licensed professionals, they’re still human and feel the same temptations.
The risk is increased when commercial vehicles are involved because many commercial vehicle types have long braking distances and are difficult to maneuver in an emergency situation. Large vehicles like semis and busses can do a lot of damage even in low-speed crashes. And even though passenger and freight trains are on rails, speed around curves, track switches and vehicle/pedestrian railway crossings are critical areas that must be constantly monitored. If a commercial driver or operator causes an accident, in addition to possible loss of life and injury it leaves their employer open to fines and expensive litigation.
Types of Distractions
A 2009 study of commercial truck drivers found drivers who engaged in texting while driving were more than 23 times more likely to be involved in a close call or wreck. Texting or using a smartphone while driving is one of the most dangerous things a driver can do behind the wheel because it causes three types of distractions:
Cognitive distractions are caused by thoughts and feelings. They include things like memories, emotions and conversations with passengers.
Manual distractions are when the driver takes one or both hands off the wheel to perform a task not directly related to driving. This includes tasks such as eating and drinking, adjusting the radio or mirrors and manipulating a phone, GPS or dispatch device.
Visual distractions are caused by objects or events that cause the driver to look away from the forward roadway. Billboards, accident scenes, street signs and people or animals on the side of the road can all be visual distractions.
Technology Helps Commercial Fleet Owners Fight Distracted Driving
Companies that employ commercial drivers need to take steps to eliminate distracted driving, both for the safety of the public and to protect their drivers and the bottom line. The problem is many commercial drivers ride alone so the chance of detection is small. Unless a co-worker or member of the public catches a distracted driver in the act and makes a report, few companies are aware they have a problem until the driver causes a wreck.
Even if the company uses a dash cam, drivers can block the camera’s view while they text away. Last year a trucker on an Arizona highway was using his wallet to block his dash cam while he used his smartphone and struck a parked police car, killing the officer inside.
BVS is committed to helping commercial fleet owners solve this serious safety issue by manufacturing devices like TransitHound™ that monitor cell phone use of train, bus or fleet operators behind the wheel. Contact me today for information on how your company can increase safety and lower fleet costs by reducing distracted driving.
About our company:
Berkeley Varitronics Systems (BVS) designs and manufactures innovative, RF analysis and wireless threat detection tools, for businesses, and government professionals to manage secure facilities and maintain wireless networks. BVS provides engineering, prototyping, just-in-time production runs, quality testing, software, tech support, and training plus our guarantee that products perform as specified.