Roadways large and small are expected to swell in the coming weeks, as spring will soon turn into summer, adding even more traffic to already-congested roadways.
Professional truck drivers will have to share the road with summer movers and vacationers alike as they all seek to make their way to their destinations.
During this stressful time, it will be even more important for all drivers to avoid distractions to stay safe behind the wheel.
“Optimum performance comes from our undivided attention,” said Jason Herr, vice president of safety for Penske Logistics. “When the mind is on something else, the quality of our driving and other work suffers.”
While warmer weather offers increased distractions, safety experts say, drivers – professional truck drivers and motorists – should practice distracted driving safety habits year-round.
Defining Distractions to Driving
Any situation that competes with a driver’s attention on the road can be considered a distraction to driving.
These distractions extend well beyond mobile phones and hands-free devices. Behind-the-wheel attention-grabbers, while subtle, can disrupt a driver’s concentration. “It’s day-dreaming, eating, drinking and grooming while driving,” Herr said.
All are behaviors we adopt when driving because we are pressed for time, but these actions put our safety at risk.
“There is so much going on today in our lives, and it’s culturally the norm to be maxed out with no time margin in our lives,” he said.
Penske Logistics incorporates distracted driver safety into training for the company’s professional truck drivers.
“The leading causes of incidents are rushing, complacency, fatigue and distraction,” he said. “Through robust training, we strive to help our associates be of the correct mindset and help them plan for avoiding these causes of incidents.”
Tips to Minimize Distractions
There are steps that motorists can take to minimize distractions and remain focused on the road ahead.
AAA suggests drivers adjust things like seats, mirrors and climate controls before starting your journey. Avoid the temptation to reach for possessions that may roll around by storing them away.
Eat meals or snacks before you start your trip. If you decide to eat while driving, avoid messy foods that can take your attention away from driving.
If pets and children need your attention, pull over safely and resist the temptation to reach into the back seat, which can cause you to lose control.
For professional truck drivers, Herr provided these tips:
- During your pre-trip inspection, secure gear and belongings in compartments.
- Practice good housekeeping by removing clutter.
- Preprogram your radio or navigational device before you leave for your trip.
- Avoid eating or drinking while operating your vehicle.
When it comes to distractions outside of the cab, Herr encouraged truck drivers to:
- Avoid focusing on non-relevant billboards, buildings and people.
- Pay attention to things that keep you aware of the road and cars around you.
- Add extra space cushion between your vehicle and other distracted or impaired drivers.
- Move your eyes every two seconds and scan your mirrors every five to eight seconds.
By taking steps to minimize driving distractions, no matter how small, you can help ensure your safety and the safety of other drivers on the road.
By Bernie Mixon
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