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Distracted truck driver causes accident captured by dash cam.

Truck Dash Cam Shows Distracted Driving Crash

A fleet truck driver in the United Kingdom was recently jailed for crashing into the rear of a vehicle on a highway that resulted in serious injury to its three occupants. Footage from a dashcam installed in the truck revealed that the driver was texting while driving just before the incident.

The video was able to provide an objective look at the incident, proving that it was a clear-cut case of driver negligence. In a later interview, this truck driver admitted that his driving behavior was “atrocious.”

Do truck drivers use dash cams?

Compare this incident with another near-crash incident from a GPS Trackit customer in which dashcam video showed one of their drivers being forced to make last-second decisions on the road to avoid being struck by a semi-trailer truck that was suddenly merging into their lane. That footage showed the van driver braking hard to avoid that semi-truck merging into his lane from the shoulder. Cars in the left lane blocked him from merging until the last second, but he was still able to avoid getting sideswiped by the semi-truck. By being aware of the road ahead, the driver found an opportunity to navigate out of the dangerous position as they were about to get hit.

Had this driver been distracted in the slightest, this scenario could have ended with significant injuries for the drivers, or possibly road fatalities.

Do dashcams make a difference?

These videos provide brief – but sobering – examples of what some of the best fleet driving practices are as well as what drivers should absolutely not do while on the road. One of the most obvious of these “don’ts,” as observed in these moments, is being distracted by a smartphone. “It was fortunate that the company had installed cameras on their lorry, which allowed us to examine the driver’s actions,” said Detective Sergeant Rob Baldwin, of the Serious Collision Investigations Unit for the Sussex Police in the U.K. “The company fully cooperated with our investigation.”

It was also fortunate to have recorded dashcam footage of the driver who avoided getting hit by the semi-trailer truck. If this event triggered an alert to the fleet manager about a harsh brake incident, the video would prove the incident was not their driver’s fault and that this driver exemplified what smart and safe driving looks like.

Truck dash cam shows alert truck driver avoiding near accident.

Are you ready to learn more? Talk to a Fleet Advisor today.

What is the definition of distracted driving?

Of course, cell phone use is one of the most common forms of distracted driving on today’s roads. Distracted driving incidents can occur through more than just cell phone interaction, however. Beyond excessive phone usage, distracted driving also occurs when drivers are eating and drinking, talking to other passengers in the vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system, really meaning anything that takes drivers’ attention away from driving safely, according to NHTSA.

“Even if a device is not being held in the hand, distracted driving can lead to devastating consequences and will likely result in a prosecution for dangerous or careless driving, as this case demonstrates,” said Detective Baldwin of the Sussex Police.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines driver distractions as “the diversion of attention from activities critical for safe driving to a competing activity.” FMCSA is unequivocal in its warning to drivers, saying, “Driver distraction increases your risk of getting into a crash,” and offering drivers six tips to remain focused on the road:

  1. Do not let objects outside the truck become distractions.
  2. Do not text while driving.
  3. Do not use a dispatching device while driving.
  4. Do not use a handheld phone while driving.
  5. Do not read, write, or use paper maps while driving.
  6. Avoid eating and drinking while driving.

What are the hazards of distracted driving?

How dangerous is distracted driving? In 2019, distracted driving killed 3,142 people in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This doesn’t include the hundred of thousands of others who have been injured in distracted driving crashes. As for truck fleets, a recent study concluded that, “The most distracted truck drivers are nearly 72% more likely to be involved in a “near collision” than other drivers.” 

Most truck fleets and van fleets across the U.S. already have policies that prohibit cell phone usage while driving since distracted driving continues to be an ongoing issue. However, even if a fleet bans the use of smartphones, some drivers may still break company policy for the sake of their own personal interests, despite the obvious dangers. This type of ignorance from drivers goes beyond cell phone usage while driving as well.

Indeed, in the case of the truck driver from the U.K, the footage was also able to determine that he had used a replica seat belt buckle, only putting on his actual seat belt when he pulled up behind a police car, earlier footage showed. He was also found to be eating food while driving, another form of distracted driving.

What are some solutions to distracted driving?

Distracted driving incidents – like the one mentioned earlier – can become teachable moments, making it easier to communicate to fleet drivers why eliminating distractions should be taken seriously. For example, drivers may be more attentive to following these policies if they learn that the truck driver from the U.K. – aside from also seriously injuring three people – was sentenced to three-and-a-half years imprisonment for causing the crash, according to the Sussex Police. The shocking video alone would also serve as an effective education tool.

As the old saying goes, when it comes to distracted driving, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Telematics offer tools for that prevention. With the implementation of dashcams and other onboard telematics devices, fleet owners and managers can:

  • monitor potential driver distractions including smartphone use.
  • share data to educate and train drivers.
  • track driver behavior to incentivize employees.

Why do trucking companies use dashcams inside cabs?

The dashcam video which showed the fleet driver narrowly avoiding crashing into the heavy-duty truck exemplifies the importance of bringing dash cam solutions into fleet operations. What was a frightening moment for the driver, can be seen as a moment of triumph for your fleet, after the fact. You can turn it into a rewardable opportunity for the driver as opposed to what might otherwise be a situation that could result in unnecessary driver training, if not for the evidence the video dashcam offers.

Which dash cam is best for truckers?

GPS Trackit recently launched the VidFleet dashcam, a new video telematics solution that makes observing and encouraging these positive driver actions even easier. VidFleet is a cutting-edge, connected video telematics system with features that include a 360-degree view of the road and driver with real-time in-cab audible alerts and the industry’s clearest picture. VidFleet is designed to enable safer driving, increase productivity and provide fleet managers greater awareness of their operations.

If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs for your business, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.

Sources:

www.sussex.police.uk/news/sussex/news/court-results/video-texting-lorry-driver-jailed-after-crashing-into-van-on-a27/

www.gpstrackit.com/blog/the-distraction-of-eating-driving-for-truck-van-drivers/

https://www.truckinginfo.com/10147748/omnitracs-reports-on-risks-and-costs-of-distracted-truck-drivers

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/driver-safety/cmv-driving-tips-driver-distraction

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