Truckers News Staff | November 01, 2009

Texting Not the Only Problem

TextingIn reference to Editor Randy ­Grider’s September editorial, “Restating the Obvious,” I was just shaking my head while reading your (and the NHTSA’s) findings on texting while driving. I feel that trying to put a finger on just one aspect of distracted driving is missing the big picture as to the nuttiness that is going on out there on our nation’s highways.

I’ve been driving OTR for 16 years now. The way four-wheeler and 18-wheeler drivers behave these days is quite frankly bizarre. I feel that any sense of camaraderie — or common sense — is almost completely gone.

I may be old school, but I feel that an 18-wheeler driver who doesn’t have his/her C.B. on and who is not paying attention to what’s going on around him or her is just as dangerous as a driver who is texting while driving. Of course, combine the two and it’s even that much worse.

In the past five to 10 years there has just been an explosion in the number of trucks out on the road. And that leads to frustration for all motorists. It’s hard for truck drivers to find a place to park and get some rest. And four-wheelers are frustrated by the amount of big rigs on the road that are “in their way.” What’s most scary to me are aggressive drivers that are much more common these days than when I started driving. And it’s not just four-wheelers to blame in that arena. Most days, the “Billy Big Riggers” out there are just as bad, or worse.

There needs to be situational awareness on the part of all motorists, drivers paying attention to what’s going on around them, in front and behind, and not just what’s going on in their little bubble. There needs to be a proper following distance for all motorists — the two-second rule.

But you throw in aggressive driving and the whole safety aspect of driving goes out the window. Drivers start bunching up, pushing, tailgating. Add most 18-wheeler drivers nowadays who don’t have their C.B. on to know about the slowdown ahead or the traffic trying to merge onto the highway, and it leads to disaster.

And of course there is just plain cell phone rudeness thrown into the picture as well. I’m standing in line at the truckstop fuel desk waiting to pick up my fuel receipt, and a driver behind me is carrying on an extremely loud conversation, it seems, with himself — he’s actually talking into a Bluetooth earpiece.

Is there really any need for that? Does a driver really need to have a loud cell-phone conversation in a bathroom stall?

I try to talk to the driver about to go zooming by me on the CB to tell him about the bear trap or possibly a road hazard ahead and realize while he/she is whizzing by that not only do they not have CB on but also are talking on the cell phone.

That happens so much that I’m sad to say that I ask myself why I should even bother.

I’m about to turn 40 years old, and I remember vividly the days when there were no cell phones in wide use. Yes, they were available, but expensive, and not many drivers had them. Today they are as common as a toothbrush. I have a cell phone because I have to keep in contact with my employer, shippers/receivers, brokers, etc. But I don’t carry on lengthy conversations because I feel there is no need to. If it’s that important I wait until I’m safely stopped somewhere.

Basically my point, to put it bluntly, is this: Drivers who text while driving do it because they are rude and ignorant. Yet I see so many near-catastrophes every day while driving OTR that for someone or some study to put the blame primarily on “texting while driving,” those people just doesn’t really know what’s going on out there on the road.

It’s the “me” generation that is behind the wheel. They are too self-important to pay attention to what’s going on around them. The “me” generation doesn’t even care.

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