There’s no way around it: distracted driving is a big problem in this country.
Smartphones have undoubtedly increased this problem, as people are accustomed to being in constant communication, so cutting those lines, even for the length of the drive, is difficult. Thus, drivers pick up the phones and try to respond, splitting their attention between that task and the road.
For the driver of a passenger vehicle, distracted driving is a big risk. It can cost them serious financial and physical loss, or even their lives.
For a tractor trailer driver, distracted driving, even if there are no bodily ramifications, can cost the driver his or her job and livelihood. Certainly it is not worth the risk.
In order to ensure that truck drivers fully understood the importance of maintaining focus on the road, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) issued regulations that would result in a distracted truck driver being severely penalized if caught in the act. Pointing to statistics, which suggest that a driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in a serious, harmful event when distracted driving, the FMCSA outlined penalties to be assessed when a driver is caught using a handheld device unrelated to the job, or ever for the purpose of texting:
- Suspension of driving privileges
- Permanent loss of driving privileges
State law, of course, comes into play before the regulations of the FMCSA, but there are few states with laws that are more strict or that would prevent the execution of the punishments laid out by the administration.
Why would the trucking industry want to see such harsh legislation in place? While the loss of an experienced driver due to suspension- or loss of driving privileges would be a big burden to bear for the company, it is a small loss when compared to what it would cost that organization if distracted driving caused on accident. Then, you are talking about:
- Damaged or destroyed load
- Destruction or total loss of the truck
- Tractor trailer repair costs
- Injury to or loss of the driver
- Injury or death caused of other drivers (and passengers) sharing the road with the tractor trailer.
- Possibility of law suits that stem from the accident