Preventing truck drivers from driving while distracted

Distracted driving is linked to traffic accidents, and it does not just affect the average driver in Texas. Many commercial truck drivers also find themselves risking an accident by driving while distracted. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number one cause of workplace fatalities for truck drivers is traffic accidents. In fact, throughout their career, the number of truck drivers who experience at least one serious accident numbers one-third of total truckers.

Between 2009 and 2012, there was an increase in the number of fatalities from crashes involving large trucks compared to 2009, which had the lowest number of fatalities in 35 years. In 2012, 700 drivers or passengers died due to traffic accidents. The total number of drivers on the roads of America with more than 10,000 pounds of cargo is about 2.6 million.

Out of the workplace deaths for truck drivers, about 65 percent were associated with a traffic accident. Although wearing seat belts was found to be the most effective action for preventing deaths, the CDC also found that avoiding distracted driving also provided benefits. This includes educating drivers and implementing policies that ban the use of texting or other activities on a handheld phone.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, to further prevent distracted driving for commercial drivers, rules have been implemented that prohibit certain drivers from using hand-held phones. The rules, which were developed along with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, apply to those transporting hazardous materials and those who drive interstate.

If a driver breaks these regulations, not only do they risk an accident by increasing their odds of a crash or near-crash by 23.2 times, but they also will be punished. A driver faces sanctions and civil penalties, which might include a fine up to $2,750.

In addition to driving and holding a phone, the laws also restrict a driver from dialing or reaching for one with the purpose of making a call. In addition to voice calls, it also forbids against texting, accessing the internet, emailing or performing any other action that requires more than pushing one button. The regulations do allow for hands-free use of cell phones.  

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