- About 11,000 truck accidents are due to distractions outside the truck.
- When a trucker is texting, they’re over 23 times more likely to get in a wreck.
- Nearly 50% of all surveyed drivers believe eating or drinking while driving is a distraction.
We expect a lot out of semi truck drivers. We’re often quick to forget that they’re human, just like the rest of us. That means they get distracted. Unfortunately, a distracted truck driver can cause much more damage than a distracted car driver.
Just like passenger vehicle drivers, there are a lot of different ways a semi truck driver can get distracted. They could be distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle.
Regardless of the cause, if you’re in a wreck with a distracted truck driver, it’s important to remember you have rights. At Rafi Law Firm, our Atlanta truck accident lawyers are here to make sure your rights are protected.
Though there’s not much you can do to stop a semi truck driver from getting distracted, it’s still important to know why it happens. And if you are a truck driver, be aware of these common distractions, and do your best to avoid them. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a serious wreck.
1. Distractions Outside the Truck
Driving cross-country for days on end may sound like an adventure, but if you’ve ever done it you know how boring it gets. Luckily for you, assuming you are on this adventure with someone else, you can take a nap, play a game, or watch something on your phone. Unluckily, truck drivers don’t have those same luxuries.
It’s not uncommon for truck drivers to get distracted by billboards or play simple mind games like trying to find each letter of the alphabet in road signs. Though these distractions seem innocent enough, they take the trucker’s eyes off the road. That means they may begin to drift out of their lane or may not see traffic patterns quick enough.
As a passenger vehicle driver, do your best to give trucks plenty of room. If you can manage it, don’t stay beside them for too long. Get well ahead of them, or stay behind. That way, you won’t be in the way if the truck driver gets distracted.
2. Texting or Calling While Driving
No matter what laws are in place, it seems people are always texting or making a call when they’re behind the wheel. They may be driving 80 miles per hour down I-75 with their eyes glued to their phone, or they may wait until they’re at a stoplight to do it. You may even be guilty of using your phone while driving. But in Georgia, having your hands on your phone in any way while driving is illegal.
For truckers, phone use while driving is especially dangerous. It takes a lot longer to slow down an 80,000-pound truck than it does to slow down a 3,000-pound car. That, in part, is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) banned truckers from texting behind the wheel back in 2009.
However, avoiding using the phone is often more difficult for truck drivers than other drivers. Why? Consider this: You’re probably on the road no more than a couple hours a day, and if you need to, you can pull over to use your phone.
Truckers may be on duty for up to 14 hours, and they have too tight of a schedule to pull over to answer a text. So, they may sneak a peek at their phone or make a phone call while they’re behind the wheel, especially in stop-and-go traffic.
3. Using a Dispatching Device
In the trucking industry, dispatchers are in charge of scheduling drivers for pickups and deliveries and making sure truckers get to their destinations on time. Truckers may get their notifications through a smartphone app or may have another device to receive instructions.
Regardless, using a dispatching device while driving is highly dangerous. In fact, the FMCSA referred to this as simply “texting for truckers.” Using a dispatching device can cause truckers to take their mind, hands and eyes away from the task at hand.
If an urgent message comes in, it’s important for truck drivers to pull completely onto the shoulder or otherwise off the road before responding. Otherwise, that message can wait until truckers stop for the night or make their delivery.
4. Reconfiguring Maps Behind the Wheel
Physical maps are a standard part of every trucker’s equipment, but these days, they’re rarely used. Instead, like most drivers, truckers rely on a GPS device to tell them where to go. That may be an external GPS, a system installed in the truck dashboard or a map app on their smartphone.
Regardless of where a trucker is getting their directions, reading a map or trying to reconfigure the route to get around traffic while driving is highly dangerous. Instead, if a trucker needs to look at the map they should pull over safely to do so.
Even looking at a GPS while driving to make sure they’re going the right way can be dangerous. Instead, truckers should rely on voice commands and audibly-read directions from their GPS device to ensure they’re going the right way.
5. Eating and Drinking While Driving
In an ideal world, truckers would work less than a maximum-allowed 14-hour shift, stopping frequently for breaks, and have meals during those breaks. Unfortunately, schedules seem to get tighter and tighter, and truckers are often driving longer than they should — and rarely, if ever, stopping for meals or a break.
Instead, truckers often have to turn to snacks or handheld meals while driving. Though you may not think doing so is too dangerous, the truth is that eating and drinking while driving is a huge distraction. In fact, a study from 2006 showed that eating while driving is riskier than using a cell phone while driving.
For truckers, this presents a dilemma. Of course they want to be able to stop and eat, but truck drivers also can’t get behind schedule. A good compromise is to load up on healthy, portable snacks and meals, and pull off to the side of the road for a few minutes to eat and drink before driving again.
How an Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
No matter how hard truckers try to not get distracted, it still happens. This can be especially dangerous in and around Atlanta. When a truck driver does cause a wreck, we’re here to help.
As Atlanta truck accident attorneys, we know how devastating it can be to get in a wreck with one of these massive vehicles. That’s why we always represent the person who was hit by the truck — never the truck driver or their company.
At Rafi Law Firm, we’re solely focused on helping victims put their lives back together. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in Atlanta, you have rights. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how we can help you.