Summer holiday season is here! People are packing up their vehicles, loading up their family, and hitting the open road. This also means that distracted driving is on the rise. When we think about distracted driving, we typically only think about passenger vehicles or "four wheelers". However, distracted driving is also a leading cause of accidents involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaging in activities that divert your attention away from the primary task of driving. Distracted driving activities can be divided into three main categories:
- Visual: Taking your eyes off the road while operating your vehicle
- Cognitive: Taking your mind off of driving while operating your vehicle
- Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel while operating your vehicle
What Activites are Considered Distracting?
The most common distracted driving activities are:
- Actively using a cell phone or tablet
- Eating and drinking
- Adjusting the radio, CD player, or MP3 player
- Talking to passengers, monitoring passengers
Distracted Driving is Increasing
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2014 over 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in accidents that involved a distracted driver. More shockingly, the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) reported that at any given moment in the United States over 660,000 drivers were using cell phone or electronic devices while driving!
Distracted Driving on the Job Due to Mobile Devices
In 2010 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published rules restricting the use (not banning the use) of devices for CMV drivers. The rule restricts drivers from holding a mobile phone during voice communications and dialing by pressing more than a single button. Getting caught means penalties and the possibility of driver disqualification, not to mention being 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event! More details on the FMCSA regulation can be found here.
Tips to Prevent Distracted Driving
A big part of a CMV drivers day is using their mobile device. Here are some easy ways to prevent distracted driving while still enabling you to use your device:
- Get a device mount
A mount makes it easier for you to operate your device and keeps it out of your hands. Mount your device in a spot that is easily reached while buckled into your seat. Do not mount the device in a spot that blocks your view.
- Use a headset, earpiece, or speakerphone
If your vehicle doesn’t have a built-in speakerphone, consider getting a Bluetooth-style headset or earpiece so you can easily initiate and end calls with one touch.
- Use voice dialing
Once paired with your device and/or vehicle, you should be able to use voice dialing to initiate and end calls which will allow you to keep your eyes on the road.
- Avoid checking your screen
When your phone rings or pings, it’s tempting to check it right away - but don’t! Taking your eyes off the road to look at the screen can easily cause an accident. If you find the noise distracting, set your phone to silent.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a CMV driver or a "four wheeler": when in doubt, pull over. If you need to check your phone, stop at a rest area or designated texting stop. Keep your eyes on the road and arrive safe!