Truckers to Distracted Car Drivers: Put Down the Phones
Tom Clark, Senior VP of Operations for Con-way Freight suggests that car drivers should take a lesson from the nation’s truckers. In an opinion piece for NJ.com, Clark offers some advice for distracted drivers, along with some sobering statistics.
Clark suggests that the nation’s truckers quite literally have a unique “view” of just how pervasive distracted driving is among car drivers across the country:
“Consider that truck drivers are perched about 4 feet above where the average motorist sits in his car. Their vantage point allows them to take in America’s landscape from another point of view. Unfortunately, what that view often includes is motorists doing everything but paying attention to the road.”
Clark goes on to cite data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which found that approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones in their cars at any given hour of the day and that distracted drivers are 23 times more likely to cause an accident. Additionally, nearly 400,000 Americans were killed or injured in distracted driving accidents in 2011.
According to Clark, federal law prohibits texting by truck drivers. The consequences for truckers who break this law are severe, and include sanctions such as fines and the potential revocation of their commercial driver’s licenses. Semi-trucks are now equipped with several technologies to avoid crashes including “speed governors,” forward-collision avoidance systems, lane-departure warnings and anti-rollover technology. All these features contribute to safer highways. Clark says that many commercial trucking companies take the extra step of investing in such technologies simply “because it’s the right thing to do.”
Clark concludes by encouraging car drivers to “Take a lesson from a professional truck driver. When you get behind the wheel, put down the phone. If you have to make or take a call, do it hands-free. Focus on the road. Don’t text. Most of all, don’t become a statistic, or the cause of a tragedy that you’ll regret for the rest of your life.”