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Truck drivers using mobile devices for business and pleasure

Truck drivers using mobile devices for business and pleasure

“More truck drivers using mobile devices to do business and socialize.” Hmm, is it just me or is the first thought that comes to mind is “Aren’t they driving most of the time?! Socializing on the phone while driving?…” The thing is – no one will admit that this is the case, and maybe it’s not. However, I have a quite deep resentment towards people that text, email, or socialize on the phone while driving.

My sister had a quite serious accident with a driver that was texting and driving, and somehow “didn’t see the red light” when he went through my sister’s car. Thank God she was alright, but the engine (i.e. the whole front) of her car was nowhere to be found, together with some other vital parts. It could be that – an accident. But it could also be the fact that there is a rule we need to follow to protect other people – not just ourselves. 

I am pretty sure that’s what caused my extremely colorful verbal reaction towards a woman that did not stop at a stop sign while texting and almost ran straight into my car. Her reaction though was as if nothing happened! This is the most frightening thing – most people do not even realize how their actions can affect others fatally.

When you look at the statistics of how truck drivers’ usage of their mobile phones, apps, and email has increased over the past few years, the thought that comes to your mind might not be what came to mine. Probably you see it as something normal, right? A person using their phone to text and browse while at work – we all do it. However, what happens when your job is to drive all day long?

You could definitely explore the statistics below and feel happy for the telecommunication industry and the increase in customer usage. However, the main thing I feel after going through them is increasing fear while on the road. Fear that a truck with a heavy load, long braking distance, and several blind spots might have a driver that on top of all that is distracted by a mobile device.

uShip’s yearly mobile survey provides us with the following statistics based on their results from 2012:

  • 7 in 10 truck drivers are conducting more business via mobile devices than they did in 2011
  • More than half of the drivers say their phone already has or could replace their GPS device on the road
  • Nearly twice as many US truck drivers use Android phones over iPhones; 1 in 4 uses a basic feature phone
  • Over half of all drivers say the 2012 texting ban has not changed their behavior on the road
  • Text messaging (79%), Internet/email (65%), and camera (55%) rank as the most popular features
  • 26% now use their mobile device for social media, up from 13% in 2011 and 19% in 2010
  • 43% now use apps, a jump of 16% over 2011 and 10% over 2010
  • Nearly 1 in 2 (47%) are now more likely to buy a tablet for business, up from 1 in 4 (26%) in 2011

The usage of mobile phones has increased so much and has made our lives so much easier that over half of the drivers surveyed said that their phone has already or it could completely replace their Navigation System.

  • 53% use their mobile phone’s GPS feature more than (36%) or equal to (17%) their traditional GPS device
  • 47% say they’ll “never” give up their GPS device
  • 52% now use their mobile phone’s GPS feature — up 24% from 2011 and 22% from 2010

One thing that strikes me the most from the uShip’s finding is the fact that – over half of the drivers surveyed said that the new texting ban in 2012 did not make any difference in their behavior on the road. One might think they were simply not using their phones for texting while driving; hence the law did not affect them.

I surely want to believe this was true. I really hope this is true, honestly, but unfortunately, many people can attest they have seen truck drivers driving and talking or texting. So, is the problem the car education in the U.S. or is it human nature that makes drivers seek the need for communication? Or is it simply the accessibility modern technology lends to communication?

According to the Centers for Decease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving

Using your phone for texting, browsing and/or emailing includes all three of the above-mentioned distractions.

According to CDC:

  • In 2012, 3,328 people perished in car accidents involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,360 in 2011. An additional 421,000 people received injuries in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver in 2012, a 9% increase from the 387,000 people injured in 2011
  • In 2011, nearly one in five crashes (17%) in which someone was injured involved distracted driving
  • In December 2012, more than 171 billion text messages were sent or received in the US

Now let me ask you this – do you feel safe on the road?  Can you imagine being in an accident? Do you know what it takes to get comfortable on the road again after going through a car crash?

The car accidents statistics mentioned above are not specific to the truck industry. However, the impacts of a car accident caused by a distracted truck driver can be much worse than the ones caused by a distracted driver of a regular car. This is why there are additional (stricter) regulations for truck and bus drivers when it comes to using their mobile devices while on the road.

Understandably, while on the road and away from home the phone is one of the few ways that truck drivers use to keep in touch with their families and friends. However, they should keep in mind that they can do this only while they are off the road. Truckers are doing good simply by being truck drivers. They are bringing us the goods we need daily. They are sacrificing time with their families for this job, we know that. They are even fighting sex trafficking! They are heroes. Many of them are women! Not everybody can be a truck driver – it is a difficult job. But they are on the road to do it and they should be focused on what’s most important – driving.

What do you think about truck drivers increased usage of smartphones and other mobile devices? How about you, do YOU text and drive?

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