Should Trucking Fleets Ban Cell Phone Usage?

Cell phones offer truck drivers useful information such as weather and delivery points which can significantly ease their jobs. However, cell phones in fleets also present the risk for distracting drivers.  Distraction leads to accidents.  The wrecks can result in thousands of dollars in ruined materials and numerous injuries and/or fatalities.  Cell phone usage while driving has, in recent years, had more restrictions added it.  However, someone driving a 4-door sedan commuting to work is not the same as someone driving an 18-wheeler across the country for a living.  Should truckers have stricter restrictions?  Or should all drivers have cell phones banned from usage?

Drivers Texting

According to SearcyLaw.com, a driver takes their eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds every 6 seconds while texting.  This statistic is particularly alarming because freight trucks, which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, take a long time to completely stop. For this reason, a driver not looking at the road for 4.6 seconds could result in a costly accident.  The same study concluded that drivers that text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a wreck.  This result is understandable because of the numerous variables on roads that require a driver’s full attention. In addition, for truck drivers, the overall size and weight of the truck makes driving a truck more complicated than driving an average car.  Texting while driving should be banned across the board, for all drivers.

Recently Texas got on board with banning text messaging while driving.  This leaves only Arizona, Montana, and Missouri as the only states that have not completely banned texting while driving.  However, most states have not banned cellphone use all together.  

Drivers Talking on the Phone

In a study by the National Safety Council concluded that while talking on a cell phone, the brain’s processing of moving images decreases by 33%.  Truck drivers that used their cell phones on the job would experience this 33% decrease.  This ultimately put themselves and others at an increased risk of an accident.  Phil Moser, vice president of the Advanced Driver Training Services claims that “holding a phone is not the problem, it is the conversation.”  Therefore, it is not holding the cellphone that causes the problem.  “Handsfree” talking is not the solution.  According to the studies of the National Safety Council, simply having a cell phone conversation can increase a person’s chances of an accident.  So, where does this leave us?  Should we ban cell phones all together?  Or should we only ban them for truckers because their vehicle could potentially cause more damage?

Conclusion

Based on numerous studies, the adverse of effects of texting and phone calls on drivers have been shown.  If trucking fleets are to operate at maximum safety they need to eliminate any needless risks.  Do the negatives out weight the positive uses of having a cell phone with them on the job?  How can you regulate this?  Cameras in the vehicle watching the truck driver at all times?  Some truckers already feel inundated with cameras as it is.  Truckers need to have their cell phone with them in case of emergency, that is not disputed.  

However, are companies willing to go to the lengths to enforce them not using their cell phone while the truck is in operation?  Since this is not up for legislation at the moment, trucking companies will have to decide for themselves.  But, at this point, each CDL driver should make the conscious decision to NOT use their cell phone at all while their vehicle is in motion or even at a traffic light.  

Original sources: searcylaw.com, automotive-fleet.com, nsc.org