Three Commercial or Owner Operator Truck Driving Misconceptions about Distracted Driving

Commercial or owner operator truck driving safety begins with the driver’s beliefs about what safe driving is. Many of these beliefs are spot-on such as tailgating in near zero visibility conditions is dangerous. However, many commonly held beliefs about distracted driving are plain wrong and cause of many accidents. Here are three of them:

I Can Multitask

For some activities, this is true. For others, it’s false. For example, you can chew gum and drive safely at the same time. However, gum chewing isn’t a mental task while safe driving demands mental focus. Neither activity interferes with the other. On the other hand, you can’t do long hand division in your head and drive safely at the same time. Both are mental tasks and the human brain only does one mental task at a time.

When you attempt doing both, the brain switches back and forth between the two. While it’s focused on the division problem, you’re neglecting your driving. The same is true when driving and talking on a cell phone because both activities are mental tasks.

Hands Free Cell Phone Use While Driving Is Safe

Hands free cell phone use is a mental task that competes with your driving. The fact that both hands are on the steering wheel doesn’t change this. You are having a conversation (a mental task) and are driving (also a mental task) at the same time. The phone conversation is diverting part of your focus away from the road and is therefore distracting you from your driving.

Does this mean that conversing with a passenger is a distraction? Yes. However, it’s not quite as dangerous because the passenger is also aware of the road and will (or should) stop talking when the driving is difficult. The person talking to you over your cell phone lacks this awareness. The passenger can also alert you to a traffic event you may have missed.

As Long as I Don’t Use Tech Devices, I’m Not Distracted

Anything that takes your mind or eyes off the traffic and road conditions, distracts you from your driving. That includes looking at the scenery, gawking at a traffic accident, day dreaming, thinking about an argument with your boss, or coping with a food spill on your lap. It also includes fixating too much on an engine warning light. It should only take a glance to assess the warning light and to determine a safe course of action.

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