Fleet owners should know the science behind distracted driving

With the widespread use of smartphones and a productivity culture that forces truckers to stay awake longer, the threat of distracted driving is growing among trucking companies in Texas and across the U.S. Fleet managers should know that there is plenty of science to back the claim that distractions, whether visual, manual or cognitive, raise the risk for accidents.

Texting is probably the most widespread distraction among truckers, taking their eyes off the road for as long as five seconds at a time. This means that someone driving 55 mph could travel the length of an entire football field before looking up again. Texting causes inattention, so truckers may find themselves swerving or drifting into other lanes. They may fail to react to dangers that are ahead of them.

Fatigue is another issue, even with truckers who follow federal guidelines on rest breaks. Those who sleep 5.5 to 6.4 hours in the previous 24 hours will have double the risk for fatigue when compared to those who sleep one or two hours more. Additional distractions, like reaching for a cup of coffee, multiply the chances of an accident.

For their part, fleet managers should aim at creating a workplace culture that prioritizes safety. They should engage employees as they identify risk factors and strive to find solutions to them.

If truckers drive drowsily or distractedly and cause an auto accident as a result, they could be to blame. Victims can file an injury claim against the trucking company, but they may want to retain a lawyer beforehand. A lawyer might bring in third parties like accident investigators, photographers and medical experts to obtain proof of negligence and determine the extent of the injuries. The lawyer may then be able to negotiate for a settlement covering medical bills, vehicle damage, lost wages and more.