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Working to end distracted truck driving in California

Some of us who grew up in California remember the biggest distractions our parents faced when we were little.

There were the kids fighting in the back seat. Turning the dial on the AM radio. Eating a sandwich on the road. And, of course, putting on makeup at the stoplight.

These days, the distractions are a hundredfold. It wouldn't be surprising if they were more prevalent among commercial truck drivers, who face long, lonely hours on the road.

There are things that fleet owners can do, however, to keep their drivers – and others on the road – safe.

In fact, Fleet Owner magazine conducted an interview with a manager for a company providing consultancy to the fleet industry, who offered advice for drivers and those who hire them.

The executive said that based on his company's research data, distracted driving is the cause of 87 percent of motor vehicle accidents. Those distractions, as we know, include talking on the cellphone, text messaging, using social media, checking email and conversing with other passengers.

The industry executive suggested that trucking companies and their drivers switch their focus when boredom sets in. Instead, companies can encourage drivers to play "what if" to stay alert.

"What if" helps drivers use defensive driving techniques to keep from crashing.

"They are constantly looking ahead and at drivers of other vehicles," he explained. "They are constantly asking themselves, ‘What if that driver has to switch lanes, or what if that equipment falls off that trailer.' They play that game to keep alert, and they're ready to respond. Situational awareness is obviously key."

Then there is the growth of in-cab videos, which one insurance company executive said truck owners can use as a training tool and as a way to coach drivers. Reviewing the videos can help drivers learn just how their driving can affect fleet safety.

"We've dealt with fleets that have a sense that if drivers know there is some sort of tracking going on in their vehicle, it will [automatically] encourage ... driving behavior," the insurance executive told the magazine.

It is encouraging to know that the trucking industry is working to curtail distracted driving. All drivers have a responsibility to maintain their focus on the road, but if you have been injured by the actions of a distracted truck driver, an attorney who works with personal injury cases can help.

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