4 Common Distractions for Long-Haul Truck Drivers

Truck drivers are well-trained to uphold the safety of themselves and others on the road. However, as the miles fly by, even the best truckers can become distracted. Learn more about the sources of distractions and how to prevent them in your travels.

How Do Truckers Get Distracted on the Road?

1. Device Use

Truck drivers need to stay connected with loved ones, especially during long trips. Cellphones, laptops, and tablets make home feel much closer, but they shouldn’t be used while driving. Checking an email, text message, or changing a song on your playlist may only take five seconds, but the distraction is significant. As Fleetio observes, a vehicle moving at 55 MPH can span the length of a football field, endzone to endzone, in five seconds. Truckers should wait until they’re on break or off-duty to catch up with friends and family. It’s not only safer, but it also allows you to devote your full attention to them.

2. Dispatching Devices

Dispatching devices are often called cellphones for truck drivers. They allow you to remain organized on the road and can send and receive messages. While they make the job easier, they are a distraction equal to cellphones and tablets.

It may be necessary to send messages through the dispatching device, but trucking companies are aware of the danger. Your employer won’t penalize you for not responding immediately. Many carriers have instituted rules banning drivers from using these devices while the vehicle is in motion. Other companies have digital locks on the devices that only deactivate after the tractor-trailer stops.

3. Eating & Drinking

Many drivers eat or drink while driving, which is efficient but dangerously distracting in three different ways, including:

  • Visually: Finding and reaching for a snack or beverage can take a driver’s eyes off the road.
  • Manually: At least one hand is removed from the wheel to reach an object.
  • Cognitively: Attention is split between the road and the object.

These distractions can cause a slower response time. They can also result in missed stops, unobserved traffic changes, and an increased risk of accidents. However, there are many truck stops and gas stations where you can take time for yourself without impacting your schedule. Before going out on a haul, make a note of these locations on your route, so you’ll always have a place to go within reach.

4. General Fatigue

Long hauls can be physically and mentally demanding until you find the right balance. A tired driver is a distracted driver, which is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and manufacturers are focused on increasing driver comfort and safety.

Last year, the FMCSA passed legislation giving truck drivers a half-hour rest break for every eight hours of driving. This break is in addition to the 10 off-duty hours each driver has. According to Smart Trucking, vehicle manufacturers have also designed newer model trucks to have more spacious and comfortable sleeper-berths.

For over 40 years, our school has given truck drivers the tools they need to stay focused on the road. To find out more about our day and night courses, call us at (330) 239-2229.

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