Professional drivers — the folks who deliver your packages, deliver merchandise to stores and deliver your kids to school — fear something on the road that’s far more dangerous than a pothole. They fret about the distracted driver, the one who’s blabbing on the phone or texting nonstop.
The pros’ advice to the millions of distracted drivers across the country: Put down your cell phone and put your eyes on the road.
More than 5,500 people were killed in U.S. crashes attributed to distracted driving in 2009. And a InsuranceQuotes.com poll taken in October 2010 indicates more than 90 percent of American motorists confess to some sort of distracted driving. When it comes to your auto insurance, a wreck blamed on your distracted driving could cause a significant hike in your premiums.
The view from the pro driver’s seat
Steve Elliston has been a big-rig driver for more than 20 years and currently hauls merchandise for Walmart. He logs about 120,000 miles a year, and his spot-free safety record helped him win top honors for his class in the 2010 National Truck Driving Championships, organized by the American Trucking Associations. From his elevated view in the cab of his 18-wheeler, Elliston has a bird’s-eye view of what people are doing behind the wheel.
Elliston sees a lot of drivers who are texting. He also sees a lot of drivers using their phones — but not using hands-free technology.
Sean Saxon, who puts about 100,000 miles a year on a van he drives in the Phoenix area for FedEx, says texting ranks as “the most common mistake” he witnesses among drivers. Saxon won his class in the American Trucking Associations’ National Step Van Driving Championships in 2010.
Saxon says it amazes him how many drivers “get away with” texting and other distracting activities on their iPhones, BlackBerrys and other mobile devices.
But it isn’t just what motorists do while driving that Saxon views as a problem. “The biggest mistake people make is taking for granted that they’ll arrive at their destination,” Saxon says.
‘The distraction of the conversation’
As a school bus driver, Larry Hannon deals with plenty of distraction behind the wheel, with as many as 65 students on board. That hasn’t prevented Hannon from winning the School Bus Driver International Safety Competition seven times, including in 2010.
When he isn’t carting around schoolchildren, Hannon is a volunteer firefighter who drives a pumper truck for a department in eastern Pennsylvania. In addition... Continue to read more...