April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month, an event sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving. Although we typically think about it as a time to educate those who drive light passenger vehicles—cars, pickups, and SUVs—it is also a good time to remind truck drivers about these dangers too.
Distracted driving means doing some other activity that takes your attention away from driving. The NHTSA recognizes three main types of distractions:
- Visual—Looking at something other than the road
- Manual—Doing something with your hands other than steering
- Cognitive—Thinking about something other than driving
Recent studies show that cognitive distraction can be especially dangerous because the brain is not capable of multi-tasking. When a truck driver performs a non-driving activity that requires thought and concentration, it diverts his attention from the road. He may not notice a potential road hazard, and when he does see the danger, he may not be able to react quickly enough to prevent a crash.
Following are some truck-driver distractions that can be particularly hazardous:
- Texting—with a cell phone or a hands-free speech-to-text mobile device
- Cleaning a side mirror
- Interacting with an on-board mobile communication device
- Writing in a logbook or notepad
- Using a calculator
- Reading paperwork or a newspaper
- Dialing a phone number on a cell phone
- Using a GPS or other electronic device
- Looking at a map
- Opening a medicine bottle
- Reaching for something in the cab
Have you had a close call with a distracted truck driver on East State Street, I-90, or I-39 as you were heading to work or school? Leave us a comment in the space below and let us know what happened.