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Truck Drivers' Distraction Causing Accidents

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Citra, FLWhen we are new drivers we are all cautioned not to drive while distracted, but driver distraction is causing some fatal truck accidents. The truth is that there are many distractions out there—we are probably all distracted at some point when we really should be focusing—but it is vital that truck drivers pay attention to the road and to traffic so that they can avoid trucking accidents.

Truck DrivingOne teenager was killed when a tractor trailer crashed into a school bus in September. Although investigators do not believe speed was a factor in the accident, they say the driver of the tractor trailer was talking on a cell phone and did not see that the bus in front of him had stopped. The truck crashed into the bus without the driver ever hitting the brakes. Eight other students and the 2 drivers involved in the accident were taken to hospital.

On lawsuit has been filed regarding the accident. A woman who pulled her children from the burning bus filed a lawsuit against the truck driver, alleging negligence on his part. The woman had 3 children on the bus and pulled them out but was unable to save the girl who died. Following the crash, the bus caught on fire and then exploded.

Most states do not have laws against talking on the cell phone while driving. In fact, only 6 states ban hand-held cell phones while driving: California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah and Washington. However, it is easy to see that talking on a cell phone can be a major distraction while driving a tractor trailer. In addition to not paying full attention to the road ahead, the driver also loses the full use of one arm while holding the cell phone up to his ear, making controlling the truck a difficult task.

Driver inattention is a growing concern for trucking safety. Controlling a tractor trailer requires full attention to the truck and the road ahead, but drivers can easily be distracted by any number of things, including the radio, cell phones, food and drinks. Driver inattention is being blamed for a crash this past summer that killed 3 people and injured 15 others. The driver involved in that crash currently faces at least 4 lawsuits.

Of course, while talking on cell phones in some states is banned, what is not yet banned is the use of text messages while driving—a distraction that would seem to be high risk for an accident, given the amount of attention that is required for reading and writing those messages.

Many drivers, (not just tractor trailer drivers) say they can handle talking on their cell phone and driving at the same time, but there is too much going on to pay proper attention to traffic. How can a person be expected to talk on a phone, pay attention to their speed, navigate the road, watch traffic lights, monitor nearby vehicles and watch for unexpected traffic patterns up ahead? It is too much for anyone to do at once and it is especially dangerous if the person is driving a semi truck.

Many people would argue that they need their cell phones in case of an emergency. Truck drivers certainly benefit from cell phones because they are able to keep in touch with family while out of town on long stretches. However, talking (or texting) should only be done when the vehicle is safely stopped somewhere, not when it is barreling down the road. After all, if many people knew that their phone call home to find out what is for dinner would result in a traffic accident, they probably would not make that call. Because the fact is that a phone call made while one is driving is not likely an emergency call, but it could result in an emergency call.

Unfortunately, it only takes one accident to end a life. So, while the drivers of the tractor trailers involved in the accidents may have learned a lesson about paying attention while driving, those killed in the accidents are gone forever and their families are left to deal with their grief.


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