Distracted Driving and Transportation Security

August 28th, 2014

DISTRACTIONS.  If you are taking a test, more than likely you would consider getting 99% of the questions correct would be an excellent score.  Now that score also means that 1% of the time you made a mistake on the test’s questions.  You may think that as insignificant.  You’ve probably heard me say or write that a typical person makes 180 decisions per minute while driving.   Using that same process means that you make 1.8 mistakes per minute or 108 mistakes per hour.  If extended that average out to a 10 hour day behind the wheel you would have made 1,080 mistakes during the day.   I hope that you will agree that 99% is no longer so impressive.  When it gets dicey is when the decisions that you make are dangerous decisions that lead to a distraction.  I doubt if anyone would consider driving blindfolded but effectively that is what you are doing when you are distracted.   Please consider the four greatest distractions that are common on the road:

  1. Eating/Drinking.   In order to eat or drink something you must take one hand off of the steering wheel.   Unless you are exceptionally good at this task, you must take your eyes off of the road for 3-5 seconds.  When you take your eyes off the road for this period of time while traveling at a rate of 60 MPH you would have travelled 270-450 feet.   What could happen during that distance is anyone’s guess.
  2. Texting.   I’m probably the only person at the company that doesn’t have a smart phone…but I’m not complaining.  The folks that research this type of thing estimate that texting requires the normal person to take their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds to key in a simple text message.  When traveling at a rate of 60 MPH and taking your eyes off of the road for 4.6 seconds to text means that you have travelled over 400 feet without watching the road ahead of you.  Title 49 CFR Subpart 392.80 prohibits texting while driving a commercial vehicle.
  3. Cell Phones.  It can be tempting to look at your cellphone when it rings but it really isn’t essential - it is also illegal and could cost you your job or more importantly your life or someone else’s life.  Hands free may be the legal option but the best option is to wait until you are parked to complete the call.  Yes conversation is also a distraction especially if the conversation becomes emotionally charged.
  4. Navigation System/Radio.  Programming the navigation system or adjusting the radio also takes your attention away from the road like texting and or hand held telephones.  The safest time to program the device is before departing for the trip or the leg of the trip.  By the way, if you use a handheld cellphone’s GPS device while driving it would be considered a violation of 49 CFR Subpart 392.82.

As a professional driver, you are concerned about keeping your CSA score at 0 but did you know that texting and cell phone usage holds a 10 point severity weight?  This means that from the date of the violation and for the next 6 months that the violation is worth 30 points.  In addition to the affect that using a handheld cellphone while driving has on your CSA score, it can also mean a fine of up to $2,750.

HAZMAT Transportation Security.  In a few weeks we will be observing the 13th year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  For whatever reason, terrorist attacks seem to gravitate toward the 9/11 date.  Since the 2001 attack, many of the terrorist hierarchy have been killed or captured.  Some of the organizations have splintered and opened operation under a new name.  Recently some of those captured have been released and are known to be back in circulation and have resumed their role as terrorists.  For the past six to eight months the chatter has been that terror networks are planning another major attack on or about the 9/11 anniversary in hopes to rekindle their radical agenda.  Individually we cannot do much to defend ourselves but collectively we can thwart their success or even cause them to fumble the ball.  You should:

  • Remain aware of your surroundings at all times
  • Do not appear to be vulnerable
  • Lock your doors when the vehicle is unattended, traveling in urban areas/stop and go traffic, when parked and in the     sleeper berth
  • Don’t be tricked into lowering your guard.
  • Promptly report any questionable activities or personnel immediately to the legal authorities.