Safety is a major concern as distracted driving is a rapidly growing concern. When you consider that a loaded, large truck, such as a propane truck goes 20 to 40 percent farther than cars before it is able to fully stop, it is easy to see that steps need to be taken to protect truck drivers as well as other motorists. Federal regulations have clamped down on certain behind the wheel activities in an effort to make the roads safer. In response, tech companies are coming forward with safer, savvier, hands-free trucking technology solutions designed to keep drivers’ eyes and attention on the road while still having the ability to communicate.
The Problem of Distracted Driving
Drivers need to be able to use certain devices by voice prompt so that they can keep both hands safely on the wheel. Cell phones, GPS devices, route planning software, and invoicing software are things the drivers deal with every day. They may receive calls from dispatch or need to make a call. Even the second or two that it takes for a driver to look down at his phone screen - and take his eyes off the road – can be just long enough for a car to stop in front of him, pull in front of him, or for the truck to veer off the road or drift into another lane. There are any number of things that can happen in those 2 or 3 seconds, and it can be disastrous.
A driver needs their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) introduced a new rule that restricts a commercial motor vehicle driver from using any hand held mobile device while driving. They are only allowed to press one button and cannot punch in a number to make a call, text, or do any type of activity on their device that involves more than that single button push. If they choose to use a hands-free phone while driving, it much be physically situated in close proximity to them.
The rule was based on research that the FMCSA commissioned to determine the effects of distracted driving. The findings showed that commercial drivers who take their eyes off the road to dial their phone are six times more likely to be involved in a “safety-critical event” which includes unintentional lane deviation, near-crash, or crash. The average time a driver took his eyes off the road and looked at his phone to dial was 3.8 seconds. The researchers estimated that if the truck was traveling at 55 mph it was moving 80.7 feet per second. In that 3.8 seconds that the driver was not looking at the road, the truck traveled 306 feet – about the length of a football field.
Benefits of Hands-Free Trucking Technology
Hands free tech has great benefits for drivers as well as other motorists on the road. It allows the driver to make calls and do the things he needs to do without having to look away from the road. It goes beyond that, though, although saving lives and preventing property damage are definitely boons. It also saves your company money.
Unsafe drivers drive up insurance costs and other expenses and lawsuits stemming from accidents can be devastating to a business. By implementing hands-free technology from the start as part of the organizational culture and putting an emphasis on safety, companies are sending the message to their employees and the public that safe roads are important to them and life is precious.