April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and we want to take the opportunity to call attention to the dangers of distracted truck drivers on New Mexico’s roads. We all know that when we take our eyes off the road for even five seconds to glance at a phone, change the radio station, or scold a child in the back seat, we risk running off the road or veering into an oncoming lane. Now imagine that the person not watching the road is in control of a 40-ton rig! No driver should allow distractions to impede his or her driving, but truck drivers put other motorists at an even greater risk of injury and death when they fail to pay attention behind the wheel.
New Mexico Truckers Should Always Be Aware of the Danger
Sponsored by the National Safety Council, the purpose of Distracted Driving Awareness Month is to remind people—particularly people in the workplace—of the risks associated with various driving distractions. Presenting a webinar and providing employer toolkits are two of the ways they hope to promote distraction-free driving this April. However, as workers whose job consists primarily of driving, truckers should avoid these risks 12 months of the year.
Common Truck Driver Distractions
Because truckers are at work when they are behind the wheel, they are exposed to even more distractions than the average commuter or traveler. Despite federal regulations designed to prevent them from engaging in dangerous behaviors while driving, truck drivers are often under pressure to deliver loads and may be rushed, fatigued, or lost—all of which can lead to distracted behaviors. Some of the most common practices truckers engage in that take their attention away from driving include the following:
- Texting. Using a cell phone to send or receive a text message has been illegal for commercial vehicle drivers since 2010; however, some truckers still take the risk in order to communicate with colleagues or supervisors or to stay in touch with family.
- Hands-free cell phone use. Using voice commands and an earpiece to have a verbal conversation on a cell phone is legal, but many truckers are not aware of the cognitive distraction this can cause. Even with both hands on the wheel, a trucker can take his focus off the road while involved in a conversation.
- Programming a GPS. Truckers are almost always navigating new territory and they rely on navigation systems to get them there. If they don’t plan ahead, they could be adjusting the GPS while driving down narrow city streets or barreling down the highway. Taking eyes off the road and hands off the wheel to do this is very dangerous.
- Eating or drinking. To save time, truck drivers often eat while they are driving. Holding food or a drink in one hand makes it very difficult to steer and stay in control of a semi-truck. Dropping food or spilling a hot drink can also create a sudden distraction that forces a driver to look away from the road.
- Talking to a co-driver. Some truckers drive with a companion and can get caught up in conversations that pull their attention away from the road, other vehicles, road signs, and speed. The role of a co-driver should be to help prevent the driver from becoming distracted, not to serve as a distraction him or herself.
- Interacting with a pet. To prevent loneliness on the road, some drivers travel with a pet. There are many ways an animal can create a distraction, including climbing into the driver’s lap or jumping down by the gas pedal and brake.
- Dozing off. A fatigued driver can miss road signs, fail to check blind spots, and even doze off behind the wheel, creating a major danger for the driver and other motorists.
Truck drivers need to be aware of these risks and take steps to avoid them, but so do their employers. If you are injured by a careless or distracted truck driver, the trucking company he works for may also be liable for compensating you for your losses.
We Investigate Truck Crashes in New Mexico
At the Keller & Keller office in Albuquerque, our truck accident attorneys go to great lengths to determine the cause of the truck crash that left you injured. If the trucker, or his employer, is at fault for the accident, we will fight to get you the compensation you need and deserve to recover from your injuries. Call our office at (800) 253-5537.