“Distracted driving kills thousands of people on our roads every year,” says Kelly Nantel, Vice President of the National Safety Council.
The National Safety Council dedicates the month of April to spreading awareness about distracted driving and improving the safety of drivers.
Research estimates that nearly 80% of driving accidents involve some form of distraction. These distractions may be caused by using mobile devices, talking to people, or by just not paying enough attention.
Drivers’ lives matter, and we should ensure that every step is taken to reduce accidents, injuries, and deaths.
5 tips to minimize distractions on the road
In this post, we share five tips to help commercial drivers minimize distractions when they’re on the road.
Tip #1: Drive when fresh; Rest when drowsy
Drowsy driving is dangerous. Drowsiness and fatigue lead to inattention and distractions, which result in accidents.
In a study carried out last year by the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, a total of 35,092 people died as a result of drowsy driving. Spreading awareness about preventing drowsy driving is extremely important.
To avoid drowsiness, make sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep. Commercial drivers often have to take long routes. A good amount of sleep becomes all the more important for them, so they don’t feel any drowsiness while on the road.
Tip #2: Don’t think too much
While on the road, it is not uncommon to start thinking about random things. Whether it is related to domestic or work-related problems, thinking while driving takes away the focus required to stay attentive. More often than not, such distractions lead to accidents and fatalities.
A study conducted at a French University analyzed 1000 cases of collisions. Nearly 50% of those accidents were caused due to a lack of driver’s focus.
Tip #3: Don’t text while driving
Texting and using mobile phones while driving is a big contributor to distracted driving. In fact, the use of mobile phones while driving is considered to be one of the biggest reasons for road accidents.
Approximately, 31% of teens from 16-18 years of age text and drive. For young adults between 19 and 24, the ratio is 42%. Additionally, 45% of adults aged between 24 and 29 also text and drive. Collectively 330,000 injuries happen each year in the U.S. as a result of texting and driving.
Try automating as many tasks as possible so you don’t have to use your mobile device while driving. For commercial drivers, automated updates are particularly useful because fleet managers often call them to get updates on location and delivery status.
Electronic logging devices (ELDs) solve this problem, as these devices allow fleet managers to monitor each vehicle’s location in real-time through a web-based fleet management dashboard. As a result, fleet managers don’t call drivers for status updates, and drivers don’t get distracted because of frequent phone calls.
Tip #4: Secure your cargo
If your cargo isn’t properly secured, it will cause distractions. Even something as small as a water bottle banging in the backseat can distract drivers on the road.
Although it isn’t possible to prevent every distracting noise, you can still secure your cargo and other miscellaneous items to avoid distractions as much as possible.
Also, never put items such as mobile phones, wallets, or water bottles on your lap. Most drivers make this common mistake. These items can easily sneak near the driver-side foot pedals, which cause accidents.
Tip #5: Acknowledge driver fatigue
Driver fatigue is real and must be acknowledged. As a commercial motor vehicle driver, if you’re feeling fatigued, you should mention it to your managers instead of taking up tasks and driving while you’re not 100% fit.
Also, don’t drive more than you’re supposed to. Driver coercion is also a reality, but the upcoming ELD mandate is going to solve it. The final ELD rule protects drivers in case of coercion and harassment. Fleet managers who coerce drivers into driving beyond their hours of service limits would have to pay up to $11,000 in penalties.
A commercial truck driver has every right to say no if he is asked to breach the law. Know your rights and be more responsible.
Fatigue leads to distractions, and distracted driving leads to accidents and injuries.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has a goal to eradicate road deaths by 2046. The upcoming ELD mandate is also a part of the DOT’s road-to-zero campaign.
By supporting DOT, FMCSA, the ELD mandate, and by creating awareness of campaigns like the National Distracted Driving Awareness month, we can all work together and minimize road accidents and loss of valuable lives.