#8 on American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) trucking issues of 2017 is Distracted Driving.
Last year, 3,450 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. In theory, every single one of these accidents could have been prevented.
The issue of distracted driving is particularly relevant to truck drivers. They spend more time on the road than any other profession does. Additionally, in the case of an accident, truck drivers stand to do the most damage, because they drive the biggest vehicles on the road.
The most prevalent distraction is texting. It is also one of the most dangerous. The average text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds (FMSCA.) Additionally truck drivers who are texting or using their cell phones are 23.2 times more likely to get into an accident. Given these stats, it is not surprise the truckers rated distracted driving as a top 10 issue. With more young drivers hitting the road, distracted driving is only going to be a growing concern.
The top strategy proposed by truck drivers in ATRI’s survey (47.7%) is to encourage harsher penalties for distracted driving and enforces these penalties more aggressively. All states have some sort of law against distracted driving, but these laws varies wildly in terms of penalties and definitions of distracted driving.
The next strategy promoted by truck drivers is a national standard on distracted driving. There is currently a lot of variability from state to state in definition of what distracted driving is and in enforcement. These discrepancies apply particularly to truck drivers, because they cross state lines often. Consistency between states would ultimately make driving safer, as there would be less confusion among drivers, who may only know the rules for their home state.
The third proposed strategy is “Recognizing the growing role of onboard technologies, identify solutions that support safe technology solutions in the cab” This perhaps my favorite proposed strategy, because I believe it is the most realistic. While the other proposals rely on legislation that may never occur, this one relies on the continued advancement of technology. Opposed to legislative change, I believe we can always count on technological progress.
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