Commercial driving is not an easy job, despite what many people think. It takes a lot of self-motivation to remain alert and cautious at the wheel for eight hours or more each day that someone works. There is special training and a lot of skill required to properly operate a commercial vehicle on the open road.
Distraction is a risk for anyone driving, but particularly for those who drive for many hours on end. The work can become monotonous, and people may experience what experts refer to as highway hypnosis. Sometimes, professionals with commercial driver’s licenses take steps to keep themselves busy in the hopes of remaining alert. However, those efforts could also be dangerous distractions that increase someone’s collision risk. The following are the most common sources of distraction at the wheel of a large commercial vehicle.
Truck drivers may spend days away from their families if they travel Regional or national routes. Their mobile phones and tablets may be the only way they connect to their loved ones while on the road. Unfortunately, texting or emailing while driving can be incredibly dangerous. Even manually dialing a phone is technically a violation of the federal no-text rule that applies to commercial drivers. It is easy to let the temptation to remain connected to loved ones overpower common sense when on the road for days at a time.
Dispatch devices are quite similar to mobile phones, but they connect a commercial driver to their employer and possibly to clients. They are a form of rapid communication, so they can be very distracting for someone in control of a commercial vehicle. Unlike personal devices, commercial drivers do not have the luxury of turning off and ignoring dispatch devices when the road hauling a load.
Eating and drinking
Even someone who is generally quite healthy may notice a dip in their energy levels and a change in their blood sugar caused by fasting for too long. Therefore, truck drivers sometimes grab a coffee when putting gas in the vehicle or try to eat a meal during their shifts. Doing so can help them perform a bit better afterward, but it puts them at heightened risk during the consumption process. Eating and drinking are very distracting and also create the possibility of a spill that might lead to erratic and unsafe reactions.
Distraction related to fatigue
Being on the road for hours at a time might mean that a truck driver has not had proper rest. Unfortunately, fatigued driving diminishes someone’s capabilities at the wheel. A reduction in the ability to focus or an increased vulnerability to distraction is one of the more common symptoms of fatigue.
Commercial drivers could face citations after collisions or simply because they encountered a police officer while communicating with family members or an employer. Recognizing and actively seeking to avoid common sources of distraction may benefit those who operate commercial vehicles for a living. Yet, because no one is perfect, crash risk is never completely eliminated. Therefore, those who drive commercial vehicles for a living need to know that they can seek legal guidance in the event that they’re involved in a crash and accused of wrongdoing as a result.