A common cause of roadway accidents today is distracted driving – and cell phone usage has proven to be a significant contributing factor in such incidents. Distracted driving is dangerous enough in a passenger vehicle; when operating commercial or work vehicles such as vacuum trucks, distractions can be even more deadly. Drivers of vacuum and septic trucks must practice good driving habits to reduce risks involved with cell phone usage and all other distraction.
Work Trucks and Cell Phones
Use of cell phones presents a challenging issue for companies with vacuum trucks, as drivers depend on their phones to communicate with the base office regarding customer visits, problems with work trucks, and many other issues. Cell phones create dangerous distractions, no matter how important they are to the job. Even though drivers need phones, companies must follow DOT and state rules as well as company safety rules to keep themselves and others safe.
DOT Rules on Cell Phone Use
According to the Department of Transportation, vacuum truck drivers may use cell phones while driving if they are hands-free, voice-activated units, or one-touch activated. These types of phones keep a driver’s hands on the wheel, which reduces accident risks. It is important to note that this does not remove all risk, as attention is disrupted simply by talking on the phone. Some states have their own laws where DOT allowances may not be valid. It is important that drivers crossing state lines be aware of the laws in that state.
Current Views About Cell Phone Use
Hands-free units have always been a popular option, enabling phone communication without drivers having to take their hands off the steering wheel. This outlook has changed recently with the release of some important studies indicating the significant distraction of cell phone usage. Many companies, including those with vacuum trucks, are choosing to ban the use of cell phones while driving.
This growing, industry-wide, voluntary ban addresses the fact that cell phones cause more problems than previously thought. Even a hands-free unit creates so much more distraction than talking to a passenger that driving while using a cell phone has been compared to driving while under the influence of alcohol. After reviewing crash data from incidents blamed on cell phone use, many businesses including those with vacuum trucks have instituted a “no-exceptions” rule once a ban of cell phone usage while driving has been implemented.
Removing the Risk of Distracted Driving
The key to successful introduction of new policies such of this requires initial employee education through classes about the significance of the risk. Most companies moving in this direction encourage developing schedules and habits that require drivers to call in before or after starting a job, before leaving the fleet lot, and at other points throughout the day when not driving.
With more and more distractions to face, the few minutes saved by making calls from the truck are outweighed by the genuine risk faced by drivers of heavy-duty vacuum trucks – and such a risk is not worth the little time saved. One accident can sideline a business; even worse – it can cause injury or death. With such odds, the better choice for drivers is to work safely with cell phones and avoid such risks!