By now, everyone should know the dangers of distracted driving. But it’s especially important for tractor-trailer drivers to know the risks, since driving their monstrous machines dangerously carries lethal consequences. 

So what do truckers know about distracted driving? A lot. Way more than enough to excuse them from doing it.

In South Carolina, that knowledge comes from the manual they’re tested on to get a trucking driver’s license, the South Carolina Commercial Driver’s License Manual. Here are the highlights of its dire warning to truckers about this dangerous choice.

Distracted Driving Defined and Described

The manual plainly defines distraction as anything taking your attention away from driving. It starkly warns truckers that when their mind isn’t completely on driving, they put everyone in danger of injury and death.

Some examples of distractions in the manual may surprise you. They include:

  • Talking, whether on the phone or to a passenger.
  • Eating, drinking, or smoking.
  • Adjusting the heating, cooling, or other controls.
  • Changing the music.
  • Looking at the GPS system.
  • Picking up something that fell.
  • Daydreaming.

After listing the causes of distracted driving, the manual bluntly describes the effects.

Danger Caused by Distracted Driving

The manual notes that every year in our country, about 5,500 people lose their lives and an estimated 448,000 are hurt in crashes involving distracted driving.

The manual instructs truckers of the effects of distracted driving. It slows perception, delays decision making, and causes improper action, all of which puts innocent people at risk. According to the manual, a delayed reaction of just a half second makes crash risks double.

Proving distracted driving is tough. Find out how to win a settlement in a South Carolina semi-trailer accident case. Get a free, no pressure strategy session with a Spartanburg, SC 18 wheeler accident attorney. Call toll free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form.

The Worst Distraction of All

We all know it, but you especially need to know the most dangerous item in your vehicle when you’re driving one that can weigh 30 tons.

Of course, it’s a cellphone. Federal safety regulations only allow hands-free cellphones—if the trucker chooses to take that risk.

The manual makes clear that hands-free devices remain a powerful distraction. It tells truckers talking on a hands-free cellphone “saps the brain of 39% of the energy it would ordinarily devote to safe driving.” It cites research showing the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event is six times greater while dialing a cellphone. Dialing takes your eyes off the road an average of 3.8 seconds. At 55 mph, this means the eighteen-wheeler travels 306 feet—the length of a football field—with a blind driver.

Truckers know federal regulations absolutely forbid texting while driving. That’s because the odds of being involved in a safety critical event while texting skyrockets to 23.2 times greater than for non-texting drivers.

In the manual, truckers learn the harsh penalties of violating the hands-free requirement and texting prohibition. Two or more convictions costs the trucker his license. All violations impose civil penalties up to $2,750 for the trucker and up to an eye-popping $11,000 for the trucker’s employer.

Trucker Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

The manual gives a list of tips showing exactly how determined regulators are to prevent semi-trailers from being driven distracted:

  • Turn off all communication devices.
  • Adjust all controls and music before driving.
  • Review maps and GPS and plan the route before driving.
  • Don’t smoke, eat, or drink while driving.
  • No complicated or emotionally intense conversations.

What To Do If a Trucking Accident Harms You or Your Family

If you’ve been hurt by a distracted commercial truck driver, you’ve got no choice but to do all you can to recover physically, and if you’ve lost a relative, you’ve got to pick up the pieces the best you can. Despite all their knowledge about distracted driving, truckers still do it anyway, as it remains one of the major factors in deadly trucking accidents.

Legally, you’ve got rights. Check out our trucking page to give you free information on how these cases are a lot different and more complicated than a typical car crash.

You can always call (888) 230-1841 or start a live chat right where you are to get your questions answered with a free, no-obligation conversation with one of our attorneys. You owe it to yourself to do all you can to make sure your claim is handled professionally so you can reach the best possible legal outcome for you and your family, without fear being tricked or shortchanged by the trucker’s insurance company.


Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a workers' compensation attorney.