Anyone can make mistakes while driving, but certain people are in positions to cause more harm through their mistakes. Commercial truck drivers are subject to more rigorous controls for their behavior at the wheel, as well as a stricter standard in terms of education. Still, commercial drivers can and do frequently make mistakes that contribute to crashes.
In the majority of collisions involving a large commercial truck and a passenger vehicle, the passenger vehicle will absorb the brunt of the damage. The people in the smaller vehicle are more likely to wind up hurt or killed in a collision than the driver in the commercial truck, which may only reinforce certain dangerous behaviors because the truck driver doesn’t incur the same degree of risk as the passenger vehicle’s occupants do.
Knowing the riskiest behaviors that truck drivers engage in can help you keep an eye out for dangerous commercial drivers during your daily commute.
Speeding can easily contribute to a crash
Speeding is a contributing factor in a large number of passenger vehicle collisions around the country every day. It is also one of the most significant contributing factors for commercial trucking accidents.
Much like a stressed worker running late at the beginning of their shift, a commercial driver is subject to intense deadlines that can impact their employment and income. Some companies pay higher rates or offer bonuses for truckers who reach their destination on schedule. That can mean that drivers choose to go at irresponsibly fast speeds if they have lost time due to weather or traffic conditions.
Higher speeds mean less reaction time before a stopped vehicle or obstacle and longer stopping distances for large commercial trucks. If you see a truck obviously exceeding the posted limit for commercial vehicles, that’s a vehicle you want to avoid, if possible, by slowing down or changing routes.
Commercial drivers should never multitask at the wheel
The chances are good that you get bored during your daily commute and try to find ways to stay engaged. However, there is a fine line between keeping yourself engaged and getting distracted. Actions such as grooming, calling loved ones on the phone or eating at the wheel are dangerous in any vehicle, but particularly so when performed by the driver of a large commercial vehicle.
Federal standards prohibit texting distraction or the manual use of a phone while driving a commercial vehicle, but those rules don’t actually stop commercial drivers from using their phones. They may also eat, talk with a passenger or otherwise distract themselves from their safety-critical job functions.
Commercial drivers often show up to work while tired or sick
Much like many other workers whose ongoing employment and income depend on regular work attendance despite what’s going on in their lives, commercial truck drivers often can’t afford to miss many days due to illness.
Workers in many industries, including trucking, may try to suffer through an illness on the job. Unfortunately, a cold or the flu could make a truck driver incredibly unsafe on the road, as can the medications drivers take to control their symptoms.
Fatigue is very dangerous for drivers. Experts often compare the effects of exhaustion on the brain to the effects of alcohol. Tired truckers make mistakes that can lead to a crash and injuries to others.