Distracted driving has become a major cultural issue. With the rise of smartphones, more and more people feel tempted to text, check social media or livestream while driving. It's dangerous enough when people in passenger vehicles drive distracted. When commercial drivers do it, everyone on the road is in increased danger.
Commercial drivers have to control their massive vehicles carefully. Even little mistakes can have major consequences on the road. Distraction may prevent them from responding to sudden changes in traffic in time. That, in turn, likely contributes to the increasing number of fatal crashes involving commercial trucks each year.
Long, lonely hours can lead commercial drivers to text
Driving for up to 14 hours a day isn't exactly an easy task. It is physically demanding and exhausting. It's also incredibly isolating and lonely. Depending on their jobs and routes, some drivers go whole weeks without seeing their spouses and children. Some of them try to alleviate that loneliness by staying in contact with their loved ones while they're on the road.
Given the popularity of text-based communication versus phone calls these days, many truckers find themselves in a difficult position. Not many people want to engage verbally on the phone, preferring to communicate via text message or email instead. Some truck drivers will give in to temptation by choosing to send and receive text messages while working. Although that may alleviate their boredom and loneliness, it is also breaking the law.
Federal regulations don't permit commercial drivers to text
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has banned commercial drivers from reading or composing text messages, emails or instant messages while driving a commercial vehicle. That rule is in addition to any applicable state laws along the route of the driver.
Sadly, just making it against the rules doesn't stop commercial drivers from texting any more than the threat of tickets stops other drivers from doing it.
Mobile phones aren't the only risk for distraction
There are many forms of distraction that can take a commercial driver's eyes and focus off the road. These include discussions with passengers, phone calls, adjusting the climate control or radio, changing clothing, shifting positions or even eating and drinking at the wheel. Driving for hours at a time is exhausting for the eyes, hands, body and mind.
With so many long hours on the road, it's only natural that truck drivers may want to multi-task while working. Changing their clothing, eating something or changing the radio can all break up the monotony. It can also allow them to spend more of their time off with family or resting. Sadly, when they engage in other activities while driving, they put other people on the road at increased risk.
If distraction played a part in your crash with a commercial vehicle, you should take steps to hold the driver responsible. After all, you shouldn't end up saddled with medical bills because of someone else's negligence on the road.