With semi trucks constantly crossing the landscape of Colorado, accidents are an all too often result. When it’s a passenger car that the semi hits, the results are often more devastating — the damage to property and life much more severe. One of the most common causes of big rig accidents are distracted truck drivers. The US Department of Transportation defines distractions as ‘any time a driver diverts his/her attention from the driving task.’
It also breaks down common distraction into two categories: internal and external. It’s been reported that nearly 8% of all big truck crashes occurred from external distractions, while 2% occurred due to internal distractions.
Fixating on external objects can lead a truck driver to lose focus on the road, even if that loss of focus is brief. It can be as quick as trying to read one of the many billboards along Colorado’s highways or taking a moment to admire something (or someone) on the side of the road. If traffic in front of the truck has slowed suddenly, this small distraction becomes a big accident.
Even without external distractions, there can be plenty of diversions happening within the cab of the truck. If the driver’s a smoker, the minor actions it takes to remove the cigarettes from the pack and light it are enough to translate into big losses in their reaction time.
Many truck drivers are constantly rushing, always in a hurry to deliver their loads on schedule. This means not taking the appropriate time to sit and eat. Cruising down a Colorado highway with a sandwich in one hand and soda in the other has been deemed just as dangerous an activity as talking on a cellphone.
And when it comes to the national policy on cellphones, the Department of Transportation states that if you must use your cell ‘try to find a safe place to stop or pull off the road, and keep your conversations short’ as the risks of crashing is 4 times higher while using a handheld phone.
Distracted driving may be the cause of a semi-truck accident, but it’s certainly not an excuse. Colorado like many other states have taken the next step, banning the use of handheld cellphones by truck drivers and cracking down on distracted drivers.