OP-ED: Professional Truck Drivers Deserve Recognition; Let’s Commit to Improving Road Safety

Photo by Sarah Bennett

By Brandon Nixon

They deliver the cargo and goods that keep our shelves stocked with food and household items and our economy humming. They drive through our communities and neighborhoods, down our freeways and streets and alongside our vehicles every day. They are America’s 3.1 million professional truck drivers.

September 15 – 21 was National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, with corporations and communities across the nation showing their gratitude for trucking professionals and the difficult, often unrecognized, work that they do. Last week’s festivities included safety awards, goodie bags and free coffee and windshield cleaning at truck stops. But now that the celebration is over, it’s back to work–and behind the wheel–for millions of drivers.

Truck driving is one of the most difficult professions in the world. Trucking professionals spend hours on the road, logging millions of miles to ensure that freight is delivered on-time–and more importantly, safely. Unlike the office, the road is a dangerous workplace.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, every fifteen minutes, someone is involved in a fatal vehicle collision on U.S. roads. And the financial costs of collisions are tremendous at a staggering $276.6 billion in 2012 according to the National Safety Council – equivalent to two percent of the entire U.S. GDP. In California, the estimated cost of fatal motor vehicle collisions is more than $4.16 billion per year according to the Centers for Disease Control.

These sobering statistics should remind us that these professional drivers take daily risks for our benefit. And that’s why, at DriveCam, we are committed to improving safety on the roadways to help ensure these drivers arrive safely at home to their families every day.

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To help improve safety, we are focused on improving driver habits to become even safer. Approximately 90% of collisions are driver-related, and therefore preventable. Think about it, most collisions are not due to a mechanical failure but due to another driver looking away from the road or engaging in a distracted activity.

With collisions occurring every five seconds, it is time to recognize that distracted driving and poor driving behavior can have fatal consequences. Most of us have seen other drivers on the road, applying makeup, texting, pressing buttons on a GPS device, etc. These distractions and poor driving habits are among the reasons that an average of 93 people die every day on our roadways.

It is time that every driver recognize that distracted driving and poor driving behavior can have serious consequences. It’s not just about texting and driving, but about safety habits and paying attention to the road.

We are committed to doing our part. We work closely with companies and their drivers to identify opportunities to improve safety habits and recognizing potential hazards while driving. Such work has made a difference in preventing collisions. However, more can be done.

Let’s use National Truck Driver Appreciation Week as an opportunity to thank professional truck drivers and their families for the work they do and to make a commitment to reduce our own distracted driving. Texting, programming your iTunes, or looking at the mirror can all wait–it is not worth the cost. 

Brandon Nixon is CEO and Chairman for DriveCam, a San Diego-based technology company dedicated to helping drivers perform everyday to the best of their ability

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