Drivers are Distracted by Stress, Fatigue, and COVID-19 Worries
While using a phone or texting behind the wheel remains a serious concern, there are many other things that take drivers’ attention off the road.
As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year, people have a lot on their minds. Several recent studies show an increasing number of people are experiencing anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on. People are stressed and fatigued; many have had to work more or longer shifts than usual while others have lost their businesses or employment and are worrying about their finances. Most are generally feeling the strain of the changes the pandemic has brought to everyday life. It’s a common distraction today.
COVID restrictions are affecting almost everything everyone does, from performing our jobs to visiting elderly loved ones in care facilities. The stressors of the pandemic apply to professional drivers as much as anyone. You have your own story, with your own concerns about family, finances, employment, and COVID weariness. But when you’re behind the wheel, if you focus on anything other than driving, you put yourself and others at risk.
Losing focus is particularly hazardous for long-haul truck drivers who need to be aware that stressed-out, distracted drivers are less equipped to handle the challenges of driving. Distracted drivers may not be aware that they are in a truck’s blind spot. They may not anticipate a truck’s wide turns or that they should make way for a bigger vehicle changing lanes. They may forget that safe driving requires full attention.
It’s important commercial drivers remain aware that other drivers have limitations and apply defensive driving precautions, such as:
• knowing your blind spots and checking mirrors frequently
• allowing extra space around your vehicle
• knowing your safe braking distance
• avoiding hard braking, accelerating, and cornering
• being aware of aggressive tailgaters and changing lanes when possible to let them pass
We’re all in this together
We’re all driving the same roads, sharing them with the general public going about their business as well as other working drivers. In addition to everything usually associated with the transportation of goods, the past year has seen supply chain issues, the closure of roadside services, and increased online retail resulting in more goods being delivered to homes. As you know too well, it’s been an extremely busy time for the logistics and transportation sectors.
When you head out on the roads, you simply can’t know what someone else is going through. You will be sharing the road with distracted drivers. Remember that you don’t know anyone else’s story so it’s best to stay calm and considerate. Whatever you are dealing with yourself, when you are behind the wheel, it’s more important than ever to stay focussed and alert. Watch out for the other guy.
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