Another component in the texting while driving debate is the trucking industry. There is currently a legislative push that will force states to ban texting while driving if the state wants to keep receiving federal highway money. The trucking industry feels they should be exempt from this rule.
A truck’s cab computer
Many truckers, drivers of 18 wheelers, have computers in their cabs that they utilize to get directions, information from their dispatchers as well as keeping in touch with their families. The trucking industry has said that these computers require less concentration that phones. Trucking companies also use the computers for training exercises. Even with these computers, the drivers only have four to six lines of text and they are not reading them all the time. Drivers also have the capability to email and browse the Internet, which their told not to do while driving. These computers are generally mounted on the dashboard near the steering wheel with either a touch screen or a keyboard (which they keep in their lap). They feel that banning these devises will not improve safety.
Meanwhile, the drivers are under a lot of pressure to get their loads delivered quickly. If they had to pull over every time a message came through on their computer, it adds more time to their route. If that happened six times during their delivery of one load, they would find themselves behind schedule by over an hour! If they’re later, their pay could get cut. They unfortunately feel that with the deadline pressures they have no option but to use their computers and phones while driving.
How distracting are these computers and phones?
A study done by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found an interesting discovery after filming truckers who used their computers while driving. The ones using the onboard computers had a 10 times greater risk of crashing, nearly crashing or weaving from their lane. Truckers who were texting were 23 times more likely to be in an accident than those who just drove. Another finding from the study was when the drivers used the onboard computers, their eyes were off the road for an average of four seconds. Four seconds at highway speeds is about the same distance of a football field. Safety advocates as well as researchers feel that this amount of time distracted from the road, the size of the vehicles and the amount of time it takes them to stop actually poses a greater risk for accidents.
As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I am in favor of anything of the texting and cell phone regulation. I know it doesn’t take long to glance down at a text or make a call, but those few seconds can make a big difference. I have seen how accidents can destroy lives and anything that can be done to reduce that risk is a good idea.