Driving commercial or owner operator trucks require greater focus and skill than passenger cars. Their longer braking distances require the driver to see or anticipate trouble well in advance. Because big rigs are less nimble than cars, truck drivers can’t count on last second maneuvers to get out of trouble. They must remain focused on their driving at all times. However, this isn’t easy because of the many ways that driver distraction occurs. If an activity takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel, or your mind off your driving, it is a form of distracted driving. These three basic types of distracted driving are explained below:
One type of visual distraction that has received a lot of public attention recently is texting. Texting not only takes your eyes off the road, it refocuses the eyes from the far field vision required for driving, to the immediate space in front of you. Refocusing your eyes back to far field vision adds another second or so to your response time. For every second your eyes are off the road, your commercial or owner operator truck moves 95.3 feet at 65 mph. Visual distraction includes looking at any objects inside your cab as well as outside distractions such as scenery or road side accidents.
A quick and effective response to a driving emergency requires having both hands on the steering wheel. One example of this is reacting to a front tire blowout, which pulls the steering wheel to the side of the blowout. Without both hands on the steering wheel to resist this, your truck will veer off the road or into oncoming traffic. Holding a drink, eating, texting, and reaching for anything in your cab are manual distractions.
If you aren’t thinking about your driving, you are cognitively distracted. This means that hands-free cell phone use is a distraction. Why? Even though your eyes are on the road, your mind is elsewhere. You aren’t anticipating potential problems, which leaves you vulnerable to unexpected events.
Studies have also shown that hands-free cell phone use can cause “inattention blindness.” Inattention blindness occurs when the mental imagery of a conversation partially blocks out the visual input from the eyes. Other types of cognitive distraction include daydreaming and texting. Note that texting involves all three types of distraction, which makes it one of the worst distractions of all.
Eliminating distraction from your driving reduces your risk of getting into an accident but doesn’t completely remove it. The reason is that there are some things that are beyond your control such as an act of nature or another driver’s reckless maneuver. This is why keeping your North Carolina commercial or owner operator truck insurance up to date is so important. If you have insurance questions, we are happy to answer them. Contact us at J.E.B. Insurance Services, LLC.