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Mitigating Distracted Driving Risks in the Trucking Industry

By Alliant Specialty

The consequences of distracted driving can be catastrophic, not only for the drivers themselves but for all who share the road. In fact, in 2021, distracted driving killed 3,522 peoplei.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and trucking companies should take this opportunity to prioritize safety by evaluating their safety policies and implementing comprehensive strategies to mitigate the risks associated with distracted driving. With proactive measures and a commitment to safety, trucking companies can pave the way for safer trips.

Types of Distractions
Distracted driving can be defined as anything that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel, including distractions both inside and outside the truck cab. There are three primary types of distractions: visual, manual and cognitive.

Visual distractions cause a driver to take their eyes off the road and can include adjusting navigation systems, temperature controls or using dispatching devices. Outside distractions can include looking at a passing building, billboard or person.

Manual distractions cause a driver to take their hands off the wheel and can include eating, drinking, answering calls or text messages, adjusting the radio or adjusting navigation systems.

Cognitive distractions cause a driver to lose focus or concentration when driving and can include talking to passengers, road rage, driving under the influence and stressed or fatigued driving. Distracted drivers are also less likely to safely respond to adverse roadways and weather conditions by failing to recognize hazards and reacting too slowly to changing traffic conditions.

The consequences of such distractions are magnified in the context of trucking due to the sheer size and weight of these vehicles. When a truck driver's attention wavers, the results can be devastating, leading to accidents with far-reaching implications. Penalties for truck drivers caught driving while distracted can add up quickly. Drivers can be fined up to $2,750, with repeat offenses resulting in the driver being disqualified or put out of service for up to 120 days. The driver's employer can be fined up to $11,000 if they knowingly allow or require drivers to use hand-held devices while driving.

Avoiding Distracted Driving
Training — One key approach to avoid distracted driving is investing in driver training and education programs that emphasize the dangers of distraction and provide practical techniques for maintaining focus behind the wheel. These programs should underscore the importance of staying alert, minimizing distractions and adhering to safety protocols at all times.

Implementing technology — Leveraging technology can be instrumental in enhancing safety and reducing the incidence of distracted driving incidents. Advanced safety features such as collision avoidance systems, lane departure warnings and fatigue monitoring technologies can help alert drivers to potential hazards and intervene when necessary.

Telematics systems can provide valuable insights into driver behavior, enabling companies to identify and address risky practices proactively. Most significantly, in-cab cameras, especially those with both an inward and outward-facing element, can generate actionable data regarding driver distractions. These recordings allow fleets to determine which drivers have significant challenges with distraction to provide retraining and an improvement plan to help alleviate the risk.

Safety culture — Establishing a culture of accountability within trucking companies is paramount in mitigating distracted driving risks. Clear policies should be implemented regarding the use of electronic devices while driving, with strict consequences for non-compliance. Additionally, fostering open communication channels between management and drivers can encourage reporting of safety concerns and facilitate the implementation of corrective measures.

Regular vehicle maintenance — Regular vehicle maintenance and inspections play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of truck drivers and other road users. Well-maintained vehicles are less prone to mechanical failures that can contribute to accidents, thereby reducing the likelihood of distractions caused by unexpected issues on the road.

The dangers of distracted driving in trucking are undeniable, but they are not insurmountable. By prioritizing safety, investing in training and technology, and fostering a culture of accountability, trucking companies can mitigate the risks associated with distracted driving and create safer roads for all. Alliant Transportation brings decades of experience in a broad range of risk mitigation roles. Our extensive background and expertise allow us to create comprehensive trucking insurance coverage and risk management strategies that safeguard businesses in the trucking industry.

For more information, visit Alliant Transportation.

Source: i.

Alliant note and disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance. Please note that prior to implementation your legal counsel should review all details or policy information. Alliant Insurance Services does not provide legal advice or legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please seek the services of your own legal advisor or ask Alliant Insurance Services for a referral. This document is provided on an “as is” basis without any warranty of any kind. Alliant Insurance Services disclaims any liability for any loss or damage from reliance on this document.