MARKHAM, Ontario - Weather, other drivers, highway conditions, the truck itself - there's a lot truck drivers need to pay attention to operate safely on the road.
Distractions that break their concentration - electronic devices, worries about family or work life, fatigue - can have deadly consequences.
To help drivers keep their focus, and to educate them on the warning signs that distractions are becoming a threat, CarriersEdge, providers of online safety and compliance training tools for the North American transportation industry, has introduced a new course on Distracted Driving.
By combining text, images, interactivity and real-world scenarios, the CarriersEdge course helps drivers understand the dangers distractions pose, and gives them practical strategies for minimizing whatever might take their attention away from driving.
"This is a course fleets and drivers have been asking for, because they know what a growing problem distracted driving is for all motorists," said Jane Jazrawy, co-founder and chief executive officer of CarriersEdge. "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says distraction was the cause of roughly 10 percent of motor-vehicle fatalities, and between 16 percent and 18 percent of injuries per year, between 2010 and 2016.
"By providing specific, useful information in a format that makes it easy to understand and remember, this course can help drivers learn how to reduce distractions, and help fleet managers and their drivers toward their goal of making every trip a safe one."
CarriersEdge has built a library of more than 70 full-length and refresher/remedial courses on important safety and regulatory topics in trucking, from securing loads to hours-of-service rules. The courses can be taken any time and any place drivers have access to a computer or mobile device and an internet connection, giving them the flexibility to keep up to date with training while traveling or at home. CarriersEdge, which is the first training provider to offer a dedicated mobile app for training, combines those courses with a system of management tools that allows fleet managers to track training efficiently.
"Commercial drivers need to be aware of distractions that affect their own performance behind the wheel, as well as those of drivers around them, in order to stay safe," Jazrawy said "But it's not enough to just remind people to pay attention. We give drivers the techniques they need to keep focused."
While much of the discussion about distracted driving has been about electronic devices, Jazrawy said distractions run the gamut from an insect flying around the cab to emotional stress. "When people are feeling rushed, fatigued or upset, or even merely complacent about the task of driving, they are more likely to be distracted," she said. "With that distraction, risky behaviors such as failing to stop at intersections, speeding and lane departures can result, leading to near-misses and collisions."
Avoiding the dangers of distracted driving starts even before the truck is put in gear, Jazrawy said. "Preparing the driving environment, including the technology drivers use during their day, and getting in the right frame of mind can be an immense help in avoiding distraction," she said. Drivers also learn the signs that distractions may be taking over and that it's time to take a break or stop for the day, before an incident occurs.
The course's interactive features allow drivers to test their own ability to focus on multiple pieces of information during the course, to demonstrate cognitive workload and how it affects reaction time and accuracy. As with all CarriersEdge courses, it provides multiple opportunities for participants to answer questions and get immediate feedback on how well they understand and are retaining the material.
It also covers specific regulations, in the United States and Canada, and at the state and provincial level as well, that cover potential distractions; stricter regulations apply to drivers hauling placarded hazardous materials.
Interested parties can learn more or sign up for a free trial of the main CarriersEdge system on its website carriersedge.com. They can try the course directly by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-530-2430. CarriersEdge offers monthly subscription pricing with unlimited use of its courses for a fixed rate.