Imagine a world where everyone paid attention to the road in front of them and crashes never occurred. Now, that would be the dream. Unfortunately, though, distracted drivers are everywhere. In 2021, over 3,500 people lost their lives in crashes where distracted driving was deemed to be a factor. At LYNC, we want to do our part to reduce this statistic going forward. With April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, here are some tips you can use to drive safely and avoid others who aren’t making the best decisions on the road.
Distracted Driving Breakdown
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s define distracted driving. According to the great minds at the National Highway Transportation Association, “distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.” The most common distractor award goes to cell phones. Texting, answering calls, and sending out that Tweet that just can’t wait are all activities that take your eyes off the road. Here’s what makes this so alarming. Say you’re driving on the interstate at a rate of speed of 55 miles per hour. You look down for a period of five seconds to read a text. Within those few seconds, you’ve traveled the entire length of a football field without ever looking up. If that doesn’t terrify you, then we don’t know what does. What’s even scarier is thinking about the driver beside you doing this while you’re practicing safe driving. This is where defensive driving comes into play, which we’ll talk more about shortly. At LYNC, we really love statistics, so let’s look at the results of a US Department of Transportation and NHSTA National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) focused on the use of electronic devices by drivers in the year 2020. The survey found that the use of handheld devices behind the wheel was decreasing. From 2019 to 2020, it decreased by .3%. This may not sound like a lot, but progress is progress. However, this means that over 350,000 drivers of passenger vehicles in the US were still using a handheld cell phone while driving. Truck drivers, we know you are not included in these statistics, but it helps you know what you’re facing when you’re out on the roadways. It’s important to also keep in mind that cell phone use isn’t the only distraction. Distracted driving has been around for decades. Thanks to drive-thrus, eating behind the wheel is a way of life for many of us. Plus, before the GPS entered our lives, people had to use paper maps. Trying to drive with a giant map in your hands is like trying to juggle while doing the hula. Trust us, it isn’t easy, folks. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to limit anything distracting you from the road in front of you.
Defensive Driving for the Win
Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could control others around us who were making bad decisions? Just imagine if you could somehow make the driver texting behind the wheel drop their phone and focus on the road in front of them. Since you can’t do this, it’s your job to drive defensively. Truck drivers, you all are operating powerful, large vehicles. Without semi trucks, we would be in a world of trouble. You all are heroes in our eyes. However, when operating one of these trucks, there are certain unique challenges you face. For instance, it is impossible to see every vehicle driving near your truck. Driving defensively means keeping an eye out for any vehicle traveling in these “No Zones.” Before making any sudden lane changes, always make sure that there are no vehicles obstructing your path. Turn signals are your friends, so please use them even if other drivers are not. Driving defensively also means looking ahead for any objects in your way or brake lights indicating that traffic is slowing or stopping altogether. You need to have ample time to break and respond to the unexpected. There are many other defensive driving skills you can learn, but these are just some of the basics. Remember, defensive driving is the key to safe driving and the best way to combat distracted driving.
One Last Word
As we get ready to enter the busy summer travel season, the roadways will be getting busier. With more drivers on the road, it will be crucial for all drivers to take extra steps to avoid driving distracted. We encourage you to share this valuable information with other truck drivers and with drivers in general. Together, we can help save lives by keeping our eyes on the road.