With technology at our fingertips like never before, many distractions such as calls, text messages and social media can draw our attention away from the road. Claiming thousands of lives every year, distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic.
During Distracted Driving Awareness Month—and every month—CPC Logistics makes it a priority to equip truck drivers with the knowledge and tools to drive responsibly. CPC Senior Operations and Safety Manager Isaac Harmon shares tips that can help make the road a safer place for everyone.
Distracted driving occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and mind off your primary task: driving safely. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash.
In a study of professional drivers from across different industries who spend long periods of time on the road, participants were asked what distracts them while driving. Their most common answers were:
- Cell phone usage
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Thinking about work while driving
- Running behind and in a hurry
Types of Distracted Driving
Distractions on the road can be categorized into three types: visual, manual and cognitive.
Visual distractions take your eyes off the road. Removing your eyes from the road at a speed of 55 miles per hour is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. That is very dangerous!
Visual distractions can include:
- Checking your phone for any reason (especially texting)
- Looking up directions
- “Rubbernecking” to see an accident or something else on the side of the road
Manual distractions, which take your hands off the wheel, can involve:
- Reaching for things inside the vehicle
- Using a hand-held device, like a cell phone
- Adjusting the radio (which is also a visual distraction)
- Eating or drinking
Cognitive distractions take your mind off driving. Some include:
- Talking on the phone (even hands-free)
- Arguing with a passenger
It’s important to note that fines and penalties for using a hand-held phone while operating a commercial motor vehicle are the same as those assessed for texting and driving. Penalties can be up to $2,750 for the driver and up to $11,000 for the employer.
Taking Action to Drive Responsibly
There are many steps truck drivers can take to avoid every type of distraction.
- Focus on using the Smith5Keys® of driving.
- Maintain a safe following distance. Large trucks need additional space between vehicles to allow for safe braking and unexpected actions.
- Do not text or use a hand-held phone or electronic device while driving. It is also against CPC’s policy for drivers to use a hands-free device behind the wheel.
- Put devices out of reach while driving to avoid temptation.
- Pull over in a safe location if you must text, make a call or eat.
- Consider using a straw for beverages to avoid containers blocking your view while drinking.
- Plan ahead. Input GPS data, set radio stations or make any necessary adjustments prior to driving to avoid unnecessary distractions.
- Do not reach to pick up items from the floor, open the glove box, or try to catch falling objects in the vehicle.
- Avoid emotional conversations with passengers or pull over in a safe location to continue the discussion.
- Focus on the driving environment, including the vehicles around you, pedestrians, cyclists and objects or events that may mean you need to act quickly to control or stop your vehicle.