Anything from adjusting the radio to grabbing some pretzels is common behavior for many drivers, especially when commute times are long. Of course, any behavior that takes a driver’s attention from the road or hands off the wheel can lead to accidents. However, it is not uncommon for a Tuscaloosa truck wreck lawyer to see cases of severe injuries caused by behind-the-wheel activities that only semi drivers are likely to do.
Most people engage in countless activities every day, but they perform a limited number of tasks while driving. While typical driver distractions probably involve cell phones, food or drink, truck drivers generally have hands-free devices and other equipment in their semis to help keep their hands on the wheel.
That said, however, long-haul truck drivers may be in the cabs of their massive vehicles for more hours than they spend anywhere else. They still have to get things done, so they sometimes find creative ways to accomplish those tasks while on the road. In addition to using cell phones and CB radios, the following are some of the more common trucker activities:
• Reaching in a pocket or reaching to the floor
• Looking at paperwork
• Smoking-related activities
• Looking in mirror while using a toothpick
• Making grooming and clothing adjustments
Of course the list does not stop there. In January 2015, Reuter’s reported a massive traffic shutdown near Tuscaloosa after a trucker veered off the road, headed into a ditch and jackknifed into a stand of trees. This accident occurred when the driver took his hands off the wheel to pull a loose tooth.
The good news is that the trucker’s tooth extraction was successful. He even admitted the distraction, going so far as to show the tooth to police. Even more important, the accident caused no serious injuries.
Drivers of smaller vehicles cannot always avoid trucks, particularly on the highway, but it is important to learn all the reasons why driving near trucks can carry significant risks. Naturally, it makes no sense to attempt to peer into the cab window to find out what a trucker is doing — this would amount to distracted driving on the part of the other vehicle’s driver. Just remember that this is another reason why unpredictable events are more common when trucks are involved.
Driver Distraction in Commercial Vehicle Operations, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, September, 2009
Other Blog topics
Distracted Truckers: State and Federal Regulations Aim to Avoid Accidents, Tuscaloosa Truck Accidents blog