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Distracted truck drivers: continuing dangerous problem

As a Texas motorist, you likely know full well the continuing problem this nation faces with regard to distracted driving. You probably see distracted drivers all around you every time you get behind the wheel. Many drivers seem to see no problem whatsoever in dividing their attention between driving and something else such as talking on their cellphones, hands-free or otherwise, eating, drinking, applying makeup or the seemingly endless other activities drivers insist on doing when they should be concentrating on the road.

Unfortunately, such bad driving practices become even more dangerous when the driver is behind the wheel of a huge tractor-trailer. Given that these monsters weigh up to four times as much as your passenger vehicle, it is you and your passengers who likely will suffer the most serious injuries, perhaps even death, should a collision occur.

Types of distraction

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration categorizes distracted driving as follows:

  1. Manual – when the driver engages in an activity that takes his or her hands off the steering wheel
  2. Visual – when the driver engages in an activity that takes his or her eyes off the road
  3. Cognitive – when the driver engages in an activity that causes him or her to think about something other than driving

As you might expect, using a cellphone or other device while driving results in all three types of driver distraction. Nevertheless, big truck drivers seem particularly prone to this type of behavior, dating all the way back to the CB craze of the 1970s.

Federal laws

Per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules and regulations, a professional driver who uses a hand-held device while driving faces a $2,700 fine. If the company requires him or her to use such a device, the company itself faces a maximum $11,000 fine.

While device usage may represent one of the greatest distracted truck driver dangers, other poor driving habits, like driving while ill or sleepy, likewise pose grave dangers. Your best strategy when approaching a tractor-trailer is to remain cautious and vigilant, giving it the greatest amount of space possible while passing.

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