Young & McCarthy LLP

Reducing distracted driving through punishment and education

Even though many Ohio truck drivers are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, they often still engage in distracting activities while driving. To reduce and even prevent distracted driving in the trucking industry, experts are suggesting that strong punishment followed by education may be needed to make roads safer.

Distracted driving, especially when a smartphone or other device is involved, by truck drivers can be difficult to reduce due to how addictive the devices can be. Smartphones, for example, are designed to encourage users to constantly look at them or use them. This is confounded by the fact that the part of the brain that is used to exhibit willpower, the prefrontal cortex, is busy with driving. If the smartphone alerts the user to an incoming email, call or text, the driver is likely to pick the device up and become engaged in it.

Experts note that even though most people are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, that knowledge does not necessarily distract drivers. The experts look towards seat belt use, which only had a 20 percent adoption rate when they first became available. Once trucking companies started requiring seat belt use and "Click-It-Or-Ticket" campaigns began, the adoption rates started to go up. Legislators passed seat belt laws that punished those who refused to wear them. If distracted driving was given the same punishments, dangerous behavior could be reduced.

Truck drivers who spend all day on the road may be at risk for distracted driving due to monotony of driving long hours on the highway or on rural roads. If truck accidents occur as a result of smartphone use, those who were involved in the accidents may have the grounds to file a personal injury claim against both the truck driver and the company that hired the driver. An attorney may represent the injured person when seeking compensation for medical costs, lost income and other damages.

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