Don’t get distracted inside the cab of your commercial truck

Distracted drivers of large commercial trucks can cause deadly accidents on Tennessee roads. Sometimes a driver can get distracted by people, sights or activities taking place outside the truck’s cab. Other times, the distraction can be close at hand in the cab — radio dials, CB radio transmissions, cellphones, sending and receiving texts, reading maps, eating.

Anything that diverts a trucker’s attention from the road ahead and the task at hand, i.e., driving, is an unwelcome and potentially lethal distraction. One study done a few years ago determined that as many as 71 percent of all crashes involving large trucks happened while the drivers were attempting to do something else while simultaneously driving their trucks.

Other research found that almost 80 percent of wrecks were linked to driver inattention in the three seconds prior to a crash or near-collision.

The following tips can help drivers remain focused on driving and keep the roads safer.

— Eliminate distractions in the cab.

Stash cellphones away and resist the temptation to get on the CB radio.

— Never text behind the wheel.

It’s not just unsafe; it’s also illegal for commercial truckers to drive and text. It enhances the risk of having a lapse in critical safety by 23 times the normal risk.

— Don’t dial handheld cellphones.

It’s also illegal for commercial drivers to use handheld phones while driving, as drivers must take their hands off the wheel and their eyes from the road ahead. Voice-activated hands-free phones allow drivers to safely communicate when necessary behind the wheel.

— Pull over to use dispatching devices to communicate with dispatchers, update logs and navigate. Pull over at the next stop, or in emergencies, well off the side of the road, if you need to contact your dispatcher.

Those hurt in accidents with distracted commercial truck drivers can pursue civil claims through Tennessee’s civil court system.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “CMV Driving Tips – Driver Distraction,” accessed Sep. 02, 2016