Recent automotive research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has determined that big SUVs, pick-ups and vans are safer to drive than small cars. Not only do large passenger vehicles typically have better visibility, but the occupants of bigger, heavier vehicles are safer in crashes because there’s more energy-absorbing structure to crush before people inside are harmed. Plus, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says, “the bigger vehicle will push the lighter one backward during the impact. That puts less force on the people inside the heavier vehicle and more on the people in the lighter vehicle.”
The biggest and heaviest of all
Of course, even the most massive pick-up or SUV you can find is dwarfed by tractor-trailers as big and heavy as Georgia law allows: an 80,000-pound behemoth that’s 100 ft. long, 8.5 ft. wide and 13.5 ft. tall.
Logic, research and physics are all agreed that occupants of a passenger vehicle are at substantial risk of serious injuries or fatalities in a commercial truck wreck.
Commercial fleet owners know that, too, which is why many trucking companies are training their drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and also installing monitoring systems to track trucker driving behavior.
Watching for distracted driving
The director of driver safety services said his trucking company will share with truckers the video taken by an in-cab camera of their distracted driving.
“We show them the footage and say, ‘Hey, your family relies on you to make a living to keep a roof over your head. Is it really worth it? Is this worth your livelihood?’”
The firm does more than share recordings, however. Truckers get a warning for their first distracted driving violation, a two-day suspension without pay for a second violation and drivers are fired for a third violation.
The myth of multitasking
The CEO of a truck driver training firm says people who believe they can use their phones to text or talk while they’re behind the wheel are kidding themselves.
“A lot of people will tell you that they don’t get distracted, that they can think about more than one thing at once, and that they can multitask. That is actually not true. You can’t multitask,” the head of CarriersEdge told Fleet Owner. “What you can do and what your brain does is just switch between things very, very rapidly. You’re not doing it simultaneously. You’re switching.”
Distractions are everything that isn’t driving
“When you are driving, doing anything else that’s not driving can be a distraction,” the CEO explained. “If you are using a phone, for example, that is the biggest distraction you can have. And the more distraction you have, the more likely you’re going to be in a collision.”
Research shows that most people agree that distracted driving is as dangerous as drunk driving – and yet many of those same people use their phones while driving anyway. They admit to talking and texting, but also to taking photos while they drive, video-chatting and even watching movies, too.
When a truck driver focuses on their phone instead of the road and traffic, the potential for violent collisions and preventable tragedies is even greater.