Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of collisions in the trucking industry. Most people think of distracted driving as talking on the phone, texting, eating, and drinking. While these qualify as distractions, other seemingly benign behaviors can divert a truck driver’s attention from the road. Using a GPS, chatting with passengers, adjusting the radio, and daydreaming or drowsy driving all interfere with a driver’s ability to focus on driving safely.
State Laws to Tackle Distracted Driving
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving deaths rose by almost 10% from 2018 (2858 fatalities) to 2019 (3142 fatalities). State lawmakers have tried to curb distracted driving in the past. Twenty-four states, D.C., and several U.S. territories have banned handheld cellphone use while driving. All but two states outlawed texting while driving. Some states are now considering new laws to put an end to distracted driving.
Current laws in Iowa only prohibit drivers from texting while behind the wheel. New legislation aims to create a truly hands-free environment when it comes to drivers and their cellphones. While the new law intends to ban handheld devices, drivers have the option to use Bluetooth to make phone calls.
Massachusetts’ current laws already prohibit drivers from holding their cellphones while driving. The state also bans drivers from reading texts, looking at images, or watching videos while driving. The new proposed law would also prohibit drivers from recording or broadcasting video while behind the wheel.
Missouri is one of two states without any laws that prevent the use of a cellphone while driving. Only drivers under the age of 21 are prohibited from texting while driving. However, the laws say nothing about using phones for other purposes, such as browsing social media or making phone calls. Lawmakers are advocating to change the laws so that all adult drivers can only use Bluetooth or hands-free options to call or send texts. The new law specifies that the driver cannot have their phone in hand.
Distracted driving is dangerous and can have lethal consequences. These incidents are preventable and don’t need to cost your fleet time, money, or safety. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn more about reducing risk for your trucking company.