DWI: Don’t Drive while Intexticated

March 18, 2015

Texting while driving is a growing trend, and a national epidemic, quickly becoming one of the country’s top killers. Drivers assume they can handle texting while driving and remain safe, but the numbers don’t lie.

Texting While Driving Causes:

  • 1,600,000 accidents per year – National Safety Council
  • 330,000 injuries per year – Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study
  • 11 teen deaths EVERY DAY – Ins. Institute for Hwy Safety Fatality Facts
  • Nearly 25% of ALL car accidents

Texting While Driving Is:

  • About 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated
  • The same as driving after 4 beers – National Hwy Transportation Safety Admin.
  • The number one driving distraction reported by teen drivers

Texting While Driving:

  • Makes you 23X more likely to crash – National Hwy Transportation Safety Admin.
  • Is the same as driving blind for 5 seconds at a time – VA. Tech Transportation Institute
  • Takes place by 800,000 drivers at any given time across the country
  • Slows your brake reaction speed by 18% – HumanFactors & Ergonomics Society
  • Leads to a 400% increase with eyes off the road

82% of all people own cell phones.  The average person texting looks at their phone for 5 seconds and can easily travel the length of a football field while going 60 mph and not be aware of things outside their window.  There is somewhat of an addicting quality to cell phones.  As a result, more and more people are doing something with their cell phones while driving.  I’m sure you see it every day around you on the road and the dangers are obvious.  This makes your job as a professional truck driver even more difficult and you have to be paying attention, be vigilant and leave room and an escape from those you share the road with.

The FMCSA rule imposes sanctions, including civil penalties and disqualification of noncompliant drivers from operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.  Additionally, motor carriers are prohibited from requiring or allowing their drivers to engage in texting while driving.  FMCSA amends its commercial driver’s license (CDL) regulations to add to the list of disqualifying offenses a conviction under state or local traffic laws or ordinances that prohibit texting by CDL drivers while operating a CMV, including school bus drivers.

Drivers will face 60-day CMV disqualification after two violations within a three-year period. Three violations in a three-year period will result in a 120-day disqualification.  There are also fine and penalties.

In the final rule, FMCSA defines texting as “manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device,” and says such actions include short message service, email, instant messaging, a command or request to access the Internet, pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication, or any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry. Obviously, this does include taking pictures or videos while driving. It also includes using the Omnitracs mobile communication device while driving. We do discourage all use of gps not designed for trucks because they don’t have truck routes in them and we could top trailers or otherwise be in places we shouldn’t be.

ACT’s prohibits all use of cells phones except in a hands free mode.  Common sense tells you that you should refrain from using a cell phone altogether in dangerous situations such as bad weather, congestion, constructions zones, school zones and other situations that require your undivided attention.  Common sense also would tell you that when you use a cell phone, it should only be for required communication, not to get into long conversations to pass the time.  These types of conversations are better saved for times when you are not driving.

Technology can make our lives easier but can also cause problems.  Assume that anything you do on your cell phone or computer can be discovered by lawyers with a simple subpoena to the cell phone company.  The same is true for social media sites.  Nothing which you post on social media is private.

If you follow the rules and common sense, you can enjoy the benefits of technology and avoid the pitfalls.  Follow the rules…, “IT CAN WAIT!”

Happy and Safe Trucking!

Tom