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When truckers are distracted

Motorists across New York face hazards every time they take to the roadway, thanks to overcrowded commutes, weather-related headaches and inattentive drivers, among other factors. Just as typical motorists may find themselves losing focus due to cellphones, roadside accidents and related distractions, truckers, too, often get distracted. Per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driver distraction is a factor in more than 70 percent of commercial truck-involved accidents, and when commercial trucks and cars collide, the cars are frequently on the losing end.  

Some of the distractions that divert truck drivers’ attention away from the roadway are the same that plague standard motorists, such as texting behind the wheel, trying to follow a handheld map or checking out signage, architecture or something similar on the side of the road. Eating and drinking while at a vehicle’s controls, regardless of the size of the vehicle, is also highly dangerous, because both acts require that drivers take at least one hand off the vehicle controls.

Other factors that distract modern-day truck drivers are more specific to the trucking profession. For example, the use of a navigational dispatch service while driving is a common form of trucker distraction, and it enhances the chance of a serious incident nine times over. Increasingly, trucking companies are relying on technology that prevents truckers from using dispatch services while their trucks are in motion, and some companies, too, utilize dispatch services that offer verbal, rather than visual, directions. There is not, however, any current mandate requiring the use of these safer technologies.

This is regrettable, given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 1,100 Americans suffer injury in distracted-driving related incidents each day. Driver distractions classify as manual, cognitive or visual, and actions that involve multiple forms of driver distraction are generally the most dangerous. 

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