Don't Talk and Drive.

There was a time that professional truck drivers where consider to be the knights of the highway. Many still are. What makes a professional driver, A professional? Anyone can learn to shift gears on some of these trucks today, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to fill out all the forms.

A professional knows their limits. A doctor, knows when a problem is beyond them and asks for help. A quarterback knows when to pass, hand-off, or sit out the game. A professional driver knows when stop and take a break, when they can turn on the radio listen to some noise, and when to turn it off and pay attention to the traffic around them.

However it only takes a few unprofessional drivers to spoil the entire profession.

WASHINGTON ?After a Kentucky truck crash that killed 11 people, top federal safety investigators vastly broadened their recommendations on cellphones on Tuesday and said all commercial drivers should be forbidden to use them, whether hand-held or not, except in emergencies.

This is a typical governmental reaction:

The recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is an advisory body, represents an evolving understanding of the hazards of cellphone use by drivers. After an accident in 2002, the board recommended banning cellphone use by rookie drivers, and after a bus crash in 2004, by bus drivers. And because of a 2010 accident in Philadelphia involving a barge and an amphibious vessel carrying tourists, and a 2008 collision between two trains in Chatsworth, Calif., the board recommended banning the use of cellphones for commercial operators of railroad and marine transportation.

Read the entire article here

As a former professional truck driver I can speak with some authority on this. I have seen some people do some things while driving, that are totaly insane; and make using a cell phone seem minor.  There are some drivers, of trucks, cars, motorcycles, and even bicycles, that should not be on the road. The operators can be too distracted to operate that equipment safely.

Time to go back to driving 101:

Before getting behind the wheel, you have to manage distractions, internal and external.

Some internal distractions can include your personal health and state of mind, If you are ill, in pain, or just experienced a life altering event (Death, divorce, lottery winning, etc.) you might not be in the best shape to drive. We should add to the list drugs and alertness. The most dangerous of these is alertness. If you just worked for eight hours, then plan to drive across the state, you could be inviting trouble. I know there are some people who will drink coffee, or Jolt cola or take some pills to help stay alert. I dare say, this could be even more dangerous.

You also have to manage external distractions, some examples are items in the vehicle, the radio, food, paper work, maps, electronic devices, other people, and other loose items that seem to slide around. At the same time you have manage some of the distractions that happen on the outside of the vehicle, moving/flashing signs, people waving on the side of the road, events happen inside other vehicles as well as activities that happen far enough from the road they don’t affect your immediate driving.

Today, cars and trucks have become much easier to drive, they have automatic transmissions, electric windshield wipers, air conditioning , CD changers, built in GPS, some even come with a night vision.

Some of these devices can be helpful, for example a GPS and radio. Part of the learning the art of driving, we have to know when to turn these devices off, and when we can / should use them.

This may come a serious shock to some of you, so brace yourself.

Everyone is different. Some people can drive safely down the road, with the kids fighting in the back seat, others can’t drive when it is dark outside. Some can drive on snow and ice, and others can’t drive when the radio is on. Knowing when you should/can drive and when you should stop is a personal responsibility.

Somewhere we got this crazy idea, that everyone is the same. If one person can drive across I-90 and chat on the cell phone between Chamberlain and Murdo, then everyone can, right? Wrong. The fact is not everyone has the skills to accomplish this feat.

With most laws and regulations, they don’t affect the majority of professionals, because they are doing the right thing anyway. This regulation is different. Many professional drivers use cells phone regularly. Some use cellphones while driving to conduct business, and do so safely. Why should they be punished or handicapped because of a small number who don’t know when to turn the phone off?

Here it is boil down, because of a few individuals who did not exercise some personal responsibility, the government is going to invoke rules that ensure everyone acts responsible.

14 Replies to “Don't Talk and Drive.”

  1. caheidelberger

    a few irresponsible individuals? I’m losing the “hang up and drive battle”. When I bike around Spearfish, I see more than a few people navigating intersections with phones to their ears. If the call is important enough to take, it’s important enough to stop. Conduct your business at your business… or hire someone to drive and talk from the back seat.

    Or maybe we should estalish better bus or train service along the I-29/I-90, install free wi-fi on those vehicles, and let everyone carry on their oh-so-vital conversations.

    1. MC Post author

      Cory, I would like to see a daily passenger train from St. Paul / Minneapolis, MN, through Sioux Falls, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City and on to Denver, Colorado and return. Cell and Wi-Fi coverage the entire way.

      beyond the novity of it the idea, there would not be enough people to support the train, in fact, there would be days the train would be empty. But that is a discussion for another time

  2. Stan Gibilisco

    What a weird society we’ve morphed into! People walking around constantly scratching their ears and talking to themselves, saying nothing. My Vulcan colleagues remain remarkably remiss about it, one having only bothered to say, “Humans lack logic; it makes perfect sense to me.”

    Personally, I enjoy not being continuously wired-in. I have a pay-in-advance “TracFone” that I renew with 600 minutes every January, and I end up with 500 minutes remaining every December. While driving old No. 7, I fear taking my eyes off the road even long enough to stash the cap from my bottle of Diet Mountain Dew under the seat in front of me, or to set a new channel on my pacemaker.

    Oh well. People can have their StupidPhones and Eyepods and Tweeters or whatever. The way things are going in this country, I’ll find myself riding a burro in Ecuador before long anyhow. I wonder if it’s legal there to … oh never mind.

  3. CaveMan

    I’d say a hundred times more accidents have happened because the driver bent over to pick up something from the floor then have happened because a driver looked down at his or her cell phone while driving.

  4. William

    It’s my understanding that the law is targeted at “professional drivers”, who happen to have the best traffic safety records of ALL drivers, per miles driven.

    At best, it’s an overreach, using a rare incident to assume a sweeping government policy that will affect those least likely to be involved in accidents of this type, in order to expand it based on the “if professional drivers aren’t safe doing “X” then we have to impose this law on everyone” mentality.

    If a driver has an accident that is cause by a “failure to pay full attention to driving”, then penalize THAT. We don’t need to over analyze every possible cause of that failure and then impose separate laws for each and every possible cause.

    We cannot outlaw every possible cause of “bad outcomes”.

    1. BF

      You could make the same argument about drinking and driving, I suppose William. The relationship of DUI behavior to using cell phones and having accidents is approximately the same.

      1. duggersd

        BF, really? I would venture to say people who are under the influence are much more likely to cause an accident than someone on the phone/distracted. The only reason why the statistics look like the rates might be the same is because there are one heck of a lot more people driving using a cell phone than DUI. A comparison of the rates of people DUI having an accident and those on the phone/distracted would give a much different rate.

        1. Bill Fleming

          Well, you ventured, DuggerSD. Now prove it. My guess is that the data on texting just gets bigger if you lump in accidents where drivers were both texting and drinking. Do you have any data to support your theory? A venn diagram or something?

  5. SDMike

    The all time classic occured to me this summer while navigating the construction zone on I-29 from 26th st exit to the 49th st overpass – professional drive (i.e. truck drive) was pretty well hugging both lanes in front of me – seriously he was all over the road and with barriers on both sides it didn’t leave alot of room beside him of even behind him. As I finally passed him I looked to see what was going on and low and behold he had TWO dogs on his lap and talking on the cell phone. When I took the opportunity to express my dissatisfaction with his driving skills (i.e. the bird) I realized that he could certainly multitask – while he had the two dogs on his lap, talking on the cell phone and capable of flipping me off also – now that’s professionalism!!!


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