Contributing author Joey Slaughter is the owner of Blue Ridge Transport, LLC. A Ringgold, VA based carrier. Joey started his company in 2010 after serving time as an unhappy employee with a local trucking company. The time spent there was not fun but, in hindsight, was a turning point that propelled Joey into the wonderful world of being an entrepreneur. Please visit JoeySlaughter.net for more insightful blogging.
As professional drivers, we should be leading the way in safety and setting the example as drivers who are not distracted by all the mobile electronic gadgets that are available to us. For the most part we are, but I’m starting to see truckers typing on their phones, unnecessary swerving (distracted), still not using a hands free device and holding the phone to their ear, etc..
As professional drivers, we are more tempted than regular motorists to be distracted because of all the guages and gadgets we’re monitoring. We have a cock pit of guages and electronics that we have to monitor during our operation as well as all kinds of after market devices competing for dash space: GPS’s (some people have more than 1!), chargers, tire pressure monitoring, smart phones, CB radio, XM/FM radio and various cameras. Even driving with pets is considered distracting. Additionally, we are in the truck for long periods of time and it’s not easy to pull over for a quick minute; we are more likely to become distracted than other motorists.
Driving home recently, I encountered several distracted drivers who were crossing the center line as I was passing them. I had to hit my horn on three different occasions to alert them. Two were four wheelers and one was a truck.
I predict that this epidemic will get worse. U.S. highway deaths have been on the decline since hitting a peak of over 51,000 in 1980. Every year since (for the most part) highway deaths have been on the decline. There were a couple of years where they spiked a little. In 2013, there were 32,719 highway deaths in the U.S.
Our government will continue to run ad campaigns demonstrating the dangers ofdistracted driving. It will take years for this to sink in and measurable improvements to start. So in the meantime, what can we do? Firstly, don’t become a part of the problem by driving distracted and secondly, we will have to drive even more defensively than ever before.