As we all know, distracted driving can include eating while driving, talking on your cellphone, putting on make-up, texting and even messing with the radio or music player. No matter what activity is being performed to distract a driver, these simple actions can have catastrophic effects for not just the guilty party but the public as well. This past April, a round table discussion was held in Houston, TX by the National Transportation Safety Board in order to specifically touch on and discuss distracted driving and how this can effect the trucking industry.
Brian Fielkow, CEO of the Houston based trucking company Jetco Delivery, was one of 20 speakers who participated in this event in April of this year. Brian believes that in order to ensure trucking and logistics companies are handling the issue of distracted driving properly, there has to be a 3 way approach. Combating the problem lies with the individual offenders, the company itself and fellow peers and colleagues. By all 3 groups working together, companies can hope to instill a company culture where distracted driving is not acceptable in any way.
“It’s about holding yourself accountable, having a company that walks the walk and having team members hold themselves accountable,” Fielkow said. “No load is more important than the safety of the public.”
According to NTSB reports, almost 10% of all traffic fatalities in the US are caused by distracted driving such as glancing a cell-phone, or simply not paying attention to what is going on around them. The group found that the problem seems to be even more prevalent in Texas where in 2017, around 19% of all accidents involving motor vehicles involved distracted driving in some way. These accidents resulted in 444 deaths and over 3,000 injured. It is due to statistics like this that caused Texas to ban texting while driving in 2017, a trend that is becoming extremely widespread across the country.
While cracking down on distracted driving needs to be a team effort involving company officials, drivers and peers alike, ultimately, the choice to not be distracted while driving is on the individual driver. However, for truck drivers specifically, not using your cell phone while driving can be difficult in certain circumstances. For instance, many drivers rely on cellphones to give them information on available parking choices and hours of service issues. This can turn into a problem, especially if the driver is entering a new city or is using an unknown route.
What this all comes down to is distracted driving is perceived as being unacceptable for others to do, but not necessarily affecting individuals at the personal level. No one likes to see someone else driving while texted or eating a cheeseburger, but a large percentage of those same individuals have been known to similar tasks while driving their own vehicles. So why the disconnect? Why is it not acceptable for them but okay for me? Simply put, we all live with idea that we are able to handle multi-tasking while driving without an issue and something like an accident could never happen to us. This mentality needs to change! The implications of distracted driving need to be recognized at the personal level for all motorists, meaning that anyone who takes to the road should take responsibility for their own actions and remember that a small mistake on their end can completely change or even end the life of another. It doesn’t matter how good of a driver you think you are, if you’re distracted, you’re distracted. In addition, accountability at all levels of an organization is the first step to ensuring safer roadways for truck drivers and motorists alike.
For more information on this round table discussion, please visit www.ttnews.com.
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