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Hands-free devices don't lead to fewer distractions for truckers

More truck drivers in California and across the U.S. are using hands-free devices for their cellphones, but that doesn't mean drivers are free of distractions.

In fact, data gathered by Lytx – which analyzes safety and productivity for commercial trucking fleets – shows that many drivers have found something else to occupy their hands in place of their phones. Lytx found that in 23% of cases it analyzed, the driver was taking part in more than one behavior that could be considered risky.

"It was typically one additional distracted behavior and it was usually when they were using a hands-free device," a data-intelligence analyst told Fleet Owner. "A thing that a lot of people don't think about is if you're using a hands-free device, talking on that phone, and you're eating something, you're kind of compounding the risk even though you're being safe using your hands-free device to free up your hands to do other things."

He added that multiple distractions could increase safety risk by 100%, depending on the activity they were engaged in along with talking.

In commercial truck fleets, distraction was the second-leading cause -- when a crash was the driver's fault -- of fatal truck crashes in 2016, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Distractions include phone use, eating, smoking or lack of attention.

"Identifying the underlying causes of risky behaviors and addressing the dangers of multi-tasking are crucial first steps to training safer drivers," said the vice president of safety services at Lytx. "We recommend managers help their drivers understand the elevated risks around them, especially during peak times associated with distraction. Also, by advising drivers to make their calls or appointments before they start driving, managers can encourage them to avoid giving in to these temptations."

An increase in hands-free cellphone devices is a terrific first step toward cutting down on the risk of truck accidents, but only if drivers limit other distractions. If you are injured in a crash with a large truck, your costs of medical bills and lost income could be immense. An attorney experienced in personal injury cases can help.

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