According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 40,000 lives in the U.S. were lost last year due to crashes involving all types of vehicles, with several thousands of these directly due to distracted driving. To raise awareness of the problem, the NSC organizes National Distracted Driving Awareness Month every April.
Passenger vehicle drivers tend to be the cause of most incidents caused by distracted driving. After all, there are more passenger vehicles on the road at any given time, and drivers may not be as disciplined or trained to avoid distractions as professional drivers.
According to the Large Crash Causation Study conducted by the FMCSA and NHTSA, only an estimated 2% of truck-related crashes are caused by internal distraction.” That said, many commercial vehicle operators are still prone to certain distracted driving habits, too. Some might seem less harmful than texting while driving (changing the radio station or snacking while driving, for instance), but these activities are still dangerous when a vehicle is in motion.
The point is, many of us may be doing things behind the wheel that could put our lives and the lives of others in danger. The key is being aware of these behaviors and addressing them directly. Whether you are a fleet manager, owner-operator or a company driver, this month is an ideal time to focus up and evaluate how you and/or your drivers handle distractions while behind the wheel.
While there are multiple reasons drivers take their attention off the road, using handheld phones for calls and texting remains a primary cause of driver distraction. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations clearly outline penalties for truck drivers who use handheld mobile phones while driving, yet it’s no secret that some commercial drivers still have not gotten the message that distracted driving is dangerous.
According to published figures, more than 21,000 roadside inspection reports in 2016 contained a violation for using a handheld mobile device while operating a commercial motor vehicle. This statistic does not reflect routine traffic stops by state and local enforcement that result in tickets for cell-phone use.
As part of this year’s National Distracted Driving Awareness campaign, the NSC is offering a number of resources you can read and share about distracted driving as well as ways to prevent it
The NSC is also offering a free 45-minute online training course through April 21 to individuals interested in learning more about distracted driving. Overall, it is never wasted time when taking actions to make the road safer for everyone. By devoting even an hour to educating yourself and/or your team this month, you’re helping save lives – including your own.