Computers in Cabs Increase Risk of Accidents, but Truckers Oppose Possible Ban
By now, everyone knows that texting while driving increases the risk of accidents, and must be avoided. The high-decibel debate on texting while driving however, seems to have left out one segment of highway users – drivers of commercial trucks.
Commercial trucks these days come with computers in the cab, which are used to streamline trucking operations. Companies use these devices to send companywide messages to truckers, relay new orders etc. There is no doubt that these computers have increased efficiency for these trucking companies, but they do expose the truckers to accident risks from distraction.
Experts believe that when a trucker uses his computer, he is just as much at risk for an accident, as a trucker who is text messaging behind the wheel. In August, a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that truckers who used these computers while driving, increased their risk of an accident by ten times. Truckers argue that the level of distraction is much lower than the distraction caused by texting at the wheel, which increases the risk of an accident by a whopping 23 times. However, the fact is that a truck driver is more likely to use his computer, than text behind the wheel. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study also found that a big rig driver who uses these communication devices, had his risk of an accident or a near miss increased by 6.7 times.
Not surprisingly, truckers and trucking companies are against any ban on using these computerized devices behind the wheel. Drivers complain that it’s not easy to pull the truck over to use the computer.
A trucker who is distracted by his computer is a bigger accident risk than the driver of a smaller vehicle texting at the wheel.According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, we lose up to 6000 people every year to accidents caused by distracted drivers. These shocking statistics call for strong measures, and these must apply to truckers and their computers as well.