Imagine you’re a trucker. You spent hours learning how to operate a semitruck safely. You finally got a CDL and a job with a reputable motor carrier. You are now responsible to drive an 80,000-pound rig hauling all sorts of cargo.
With your two hands firmly on the wheel and your two eyeballs set on the road, you are fully aware of not just your task to transport your load, but also upholding the safety of yourself and all other vehicles you share the road with.
Unknown to you yet, is an unassuming sedan across the lane from you. In that passenger vehicle lays two occupants—Becky and her friend Brenda. Becky just got her drivers license and she’s on a joyride with her friend to celebrate. With Taylor Swift’s new Midnights album on aux, Becky and Brenda perform a video selfie for their Snapchat audience.
While taking the video, Becky also takes her eyes off the road for a few seconds. In this faint moment of distraction, Becky veers into your lane and bumps into your CV.
You, Becky, and Brenda are okay afterwards, but you’re left feeling like you had no control over your safety thanks to a decision from someone else on the road. A preventable error on someone else’s end trumped any due diligence you paid from your end.
A safety issue out of trucking’s control
While the above was a hypothetical, it’s certainly not a tall tale.
It’s no secret that the job of a professional truck driver is one of the country’s most dangerous occupations. Spending most of the day in a 40-ton vessel barreling down busy roadways has inherently more risk than a typical desk job.
Clearly, trucking acknowledges this and safety is usually a prioritized focus in discussions among stakeholders. Just comb through our blog section and you’ll see how often safety is brought up.
Unfortunately, there are just some things out of their control. The most notable being other drivers on the road and, particularly, the distracted drivers on the road.
2020 data from the NHTSA reported that some 3,000 people per year are killed on U.S. highways because of distracted driving. Studies from insurance companies have also suggested distracting behaviors behind the wheel rose since the pandemic.
From a trucker, “Distracted driving is serious problem.”
As a 36-year veteran in trucking, driver Steve Fields condemns distracted driving. “[Distracted driving] is a serious, serious problem…for every ten cars that pass me on the road today, they are doing something that is distracting. It’s alarming. It’s scary.”
Fields is somewhat of a legend in truck driving. He’s a captain of the American Trucking Associations’ America’s Road Team and has more than three and a half million accident-free miles under his belt. His word, and concern, carries a lot of merit.
He, along with other industry peers, discussed these safety risks at the ATA’s Management Conference & Exhibition (MCE) last month.
Also in attendance at MCE was U.S. DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Among several points, Buttigieg also touched base on safety concerns for trucking in his keynote address . For a closer look!
Fields summed up that there are no consequences for distracted driving. He likens the severity of it to drunk driving. The latter of which carries fines of up to $10,000 and possible imprisonment.
For car drivers, Fields notes distracted driving tickets are some $100, while on the flip side, truckers (operating semitrucks) can be issued a $1,000 fine for the same infraction.
In other words, the laws have to be a lot stricter for cars in order for any behavioral correction.
Data suggests car drivers are typically at fault
Past studies reflect data that supports trucking’s qualms with distracted drivers.
Car drivers are found to be responsible for around 70 percent of crashes involving trucks. This data suggests truckers are usually nonnegligent in these events.
Maybe, the steeper fines and penalties truckers face cuts back their on likelihood to drive distracted? Would Fields’ suggestion of harsher laws for car drivers reduce this sort of behavior?
Whether who’s at fault aside, the concerns Fields surfaced certainly points the finger at the need for cracking down on distracted drivers.
As we mentioned earlier, 3,000 people are estimated to die each year on the country’s highways at the hands of distracted drivers.
Drivers of cars are people. Truckers are people. At the end of the day, both will be counted as a person in any statistic involving distracted driving.
But please make no mistake. Truckers are concerned for their safety due to the distractive actions of car drivers. This blog aims to surface this concern.
Our experts at Commerce Express Inc. implore you to put the phone down and if you can’t…we will call up a carrier and ship a lockbox—free of charge—for you to put your phone in while you drive.
Contact one of our team members if you have any questions regarding this topic or any others in domestic logistics.
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