April 23, 2023

Two Scenarios, One Distracted Driver
Two Scenarios, One Distracted Driver
There are many ways to be a distracted driver.

April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month, a conversation that never gets old. We are always looking for ways to reach drivers and influence them to focus only on driving, removing any distractions that may impact them to take attention off the road.

Many scenarios can develop, and many consequences can occur, but the definition of a distracted driver remains the same, no matter the situation. The following two scenarios are different, but the distraction is the same.


Distracted Driver Scenario One: 


It’s 11:00 PM, and you’re driving down the highway during a minor winter storm, trying to get to your stop to turn in for the night. Visibility isn’t perfect, but you can still see far enough ahead of you to drive safely. Suddenly you hear the familiar ding of your phone.

The suspense of finding out who the sender of the text was and what it said is overwhelming, but you know, looking at your phone right now would be a distraction, and besides, they know what you do for a living, so you know they’ll understand. But the guilt of leaving the sender ignored gets to you, and you reach over to send the prefabricated “I’ll call you back” text.

The text was already pre-written, so it took only a second to hit the button. Before you can look up, you feel the resistance of something on the right side of your truck. Hearing scraping, you realize you have drifted into the protective barrier on the side of the road.

It was covered with snow making it difficult to see ahead of time. As you start grabbing the wheel to turn away, the protective barrier ends, and just before the wheels start turning left to get back on the road, you catch a glimpse of the plummeting abyss beyond the barrier, hidden by the night and the storm.


Driving at night in winter is especially dangerous when distracted.


In a time when our cell phones have all but been embedded into our hands, it’s difficult to imagine not answering a text or not checking to see who’s calling. Hands-free devices enable us to answer calls and read texts aloud without becoming distracted drivers by keeping our hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road.

When trucking in winter, especially during a storm, no matter the intensity, taking your eyes off the road for even a fraction of a section can be deadly and should be avoided at all costs. If whoever is calling knows you work on the road, they will understand when you don’t respond, even without prefabricated filler texts.

If you still feel guilt from unanswered texts, see if you can set your phone to send the prewritten responses automatically after you receive a text. When you stop driving, and you’re safely able to use the phone, take time to read and respond to everything. Share your schedules with family members so they know the best time to reach you.


Distracted Driver Scenario 2:


You’re on your way to work in the morning, eating the sandwich you made before you left. You’re still in the neighborhood going only 25 mph when a piece of salami falls on the passenger seat floor. Not wanting to forget, you don’t think twice about leaning over to pick up the meat.

Meanwhile, a crossing guard notices you from a distance going the speed limit, and determines that you’re far enough to see the crosswalk and come to a complete stop. He starts crossing the children headed to school that morning, stopping in the middle of the crosswalk, holding up his red and white metal STOP sign.

As you lean over to pick up the piece of sausage, you unknowingly press down on the gas pedal and start accelerating toward the crosswalk. The crossing guard notices you’re not slowing down and starts rushing the children across the street, waving the stop sign back and forth.

After picking up the salami, you glimpse the frantic waving sign and slam on your brakes. You come to a stop, and once the shock of what just happened fades, you realize you’re stopped in the middle of the crosswalk. The crossing guard runs to the car, flailing his arms and yelling in anger, the intensity of his words muffled by the closed window. 


Eating while driving can be a distraction.


A distracted driver isn’t always someone using their phone while driving. Being a safe driver means not taking your eyes off the road for any reason, whether to reach something, apply makeup, or anything else that takes attention away from driving.

When leaning over to pick something up, we often press our feet down to be able to reach it if it is far away. Pressing down on the gas can result from reaching for something far and is hard to notice immediately in certain vehicles. The distance you gaged at a slower pace is now significantly shortened by acceleration.

If something happens while you’re driving, be it dropping food, spilling coffee, or spilling the contents of your bag on the floor, it can all wait until you come to a stop. Pull over and take care of it off the road if you can’t leave it until the destination.


Thank you for reading! Follow our blog for more trucking news and highlights, and check out our employment opportunities and requirements if you are interested in a trucking job.


Other Recommended Readings from our Blog:

Do Truckers Use Runaway Truck Ramps?

How Truckers Can Battle Fatigue on the Road

Benefits of a Trucking Simulator