Truck drivers spend endless hours on the road. On long straightaways and quiet nights, maintaining focus can be hard. Distractions of any kind significantly increase the likelihood of an accident. Knowing how to avoid dangerous distractions improves performance and safety on the roadways every day.
The Risks of Distracted Driving
One of the most harmful types of distracted driving occurs when a driver picks up the phone. At a speed of 55 mph, a truck will move roughly the distance of a football field in the five seconds it takes to read a text or email subject. A mere five seconds is all it takes to put your career and your life in jeopardy.
According to the most recent data from the NHTSA, distracted driving killed 3,477 people and injured nearly 400,000 more in 2015. Distractions are more than a voluntary bad decision; they’re often an unconscious habit. Many people automatically pick up a phone as soon as they hear a familiar buzz, tweet, or ring; unlearning this habit is crucial to truck driving success.
Tips to Avoid Technology Distractions on the Road
While some companies use technology to force drivers to put the phone down using cameras or other monitoring solutions, others trust their drivers to make smart driving decisions. If you find the temptation to grab your phone on the road too great, try some of these tips to maintain focus, avoid boredom, and drive safely:
- Embrace hands free technology. Use phone cradles and mounted dispatch displays to keep track of daily activities. Instead of keeping one hand to your ear all day, invest in a truck speaker or a headset that allows you to communicate and keep your hands on the wheel.
- Play a driving focus game with yourself. Think about what you would do in hypothetical driving situations. If you’re driving in a rural area at night, imagine how you would react if a deer suddenly ran across the road. In high traffic areas, look for your exit strategy if someone cuts you off. These strategy games will keep you focused and help you react strongly in unexpected situations.
- Take reasonable breaks. If you need to respond to a text, read your email, or check the latest game stats, pull over for a few minutes.
- Consider downloading a mobile device blocker. You may not be able to modify a device that connects you to work and dispatchers, but you can take steps to minimize the likelihood of a personal phone distraction. Download an app such as AT&T DriveMode, TruMotion, or LifeSaver to block calls and texts while you’re in motion. Most of the apps are free and some offer safe driving rewards.
- Put mobile devices out of reach. If you do not have a hands-free connection or a device blocker, consider putting mobile devices out of reach while you drive. This will force you to stop and look at the device or ignore the notification instead of glancing at the screen.
Even the most seasoned drivers can fall prey to a sudden incoming call or message. While truck driving can feel monotonous at times, these tips provide better ways to maintain focus than looking down at a screen.