Distracted drivers are everywhere.
Sometimes we have to give them a friendly horn tap to let them know the light is green. Sometimes we have to be less subtle when they’re swerving into our lane.
These incidents can be frustrating, nerve-wracking or downright scary. But none are quite as scary as when a distracted driver is behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound semi truck. These vehicles can limit the driver’s sight and hearing, so a distracted, tired or impaired driver becomes an even greater threat to lives and safety.
According to cognitive neuroscientist David Strayer, operators of a vehicle are four times more likely to be involved in a crash if they are talking on the phone, which represents a crash risk similar to drivers with .08 blood alcohol content (the legal limit for drunk driving). Texting while driving creates even higher crash risk, increasing a driver’s likelihood of being in a wreck by 8 times the average.
Strayer’s studies have also shown that after using distracting technology, such as a cell phone or in-vehicle voice command system, drivers experience unsafe mental distraction for an average of 27 seconds.
A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study attributed 14 percent of truck crashes to inadequate surveillance, 13 percent to fatigue, 9 percent to inattention, 8 percent to external distraction and 2 percent to internal distraction. In total, 35 percent of truck crashes were due to some form of distracted driving.
The important thing to remember on the road is that you should be staying aware at all times. Maintaining this philosophy will keep you safer from truckers and your fellow civilian drivers. It will also allow you to spot a distracted driver when you encounter one, and stay clear of that vehicle. Here are some telltale signs of a distracted driver:
• Driving with eyes/head down.
• Drifting into the next lane.
• Erratic braking.
• Driving too fast or too slow for the flow of traffic.
• Lengthy pauses at intersections.
• Applying makeup.
• Reaching for objects in passenger seat or back seat.
If you notice a distracted driver, especially a distracted truck driver, pull over in a safe spot and contact the appropriate authorities. Avoid driving near their vehicle, especially in front or directly to the side of them. It only takes a moment of distracted driving to change the lives of a family forever.
If you or a loved one has already been in a truck crash, it is very important to contact an attorney immediately, before speaking to any insurance representatives.