Truck collision highlights concerns about distracted driving

Distracted driving is a significant problem in the transportation industry. Drivers always need to be alert and paying attention to the road or they put themselves, as well as others on the road, at risk.

Recent crash shines spotlight on distracted driving
The importance of paying attention while behind the wheel was recently highlighted when a truck driver working for a Canadian transportation company knocked a car off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland. The smaller vehicle fell nearly 30 feet into the bay below, according to The Washington Post, and the driver managed to escape the vehicle after it hit the water, but had to swim for her life until rescued.

Investigators have determined the collision was a result of distracted driving. The driver was not only tailgating the vehicle in front of him, but also distracted by lights behind him, and subsequently looking in the truck's side-view mirror at the time of the crash. Because he was not watching the road ahead, the driver did not notice cars in front of him stopping and hit a smaller vehicle, pushing it over the bridge.

According to CBS Baltimore, the driver has been charged with failure to control speed to avoid a collision, unsafe lane changes and negligent driving at an unreasonable speed on a highway. As a result, he faces $670 in fines.

Making safety a habit
Companies are consistently broaching the topic of safe driving with employees and ensuring they're using best practices to avoid collisions on the road. There are several ways management teams can help drivers prevent accidents.

• Encourage breaks. The longer a driver is on the road without a break, the more restless, tired or distracted they may become. By encouraging employees to stop when necessary, a company limits the risk of workers staying behind the wheel when they shouldn't.

• Have employees brush up on safety knowledge. While drivers may be well-versed in how to avoid accidents, that doesn't mean a refresher won't be helpful. Review policies that ban cellphone use or mandate maximum speeds with drivers to ensure their skills are always sharp.

• Use route optimization softwareNew software allows drivers to take the most direct route possible and keeps them from driving unnecessary miles. When a driver is on the road for shorter periods, his or her risk of an accident is lowered because the highways being traveled are guaranteed to be safe and able to accommodate trucks.