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'It's only a moment's mistake:' Truckers witnessing distracted driving

Trucker Tommy Giles

“We’re in a congested area. And this is where you can get in trouble sometimes quicker than you can get on an interstate,” says trucker Tommy Giles.

Giles leads orientation for new drivers and drives an 18-wheeler for the Montgomery Transport trucking firm. The company hauls steel, pipe and building materials all over the country.

Giles loves the freedom of the open road

He loves being out on the road.

“We live in a beautiful country,” Giles says. “And most people never get to see this country. As a truck driver, you’re afforded an opportunity to travel and see things that a lot of other people will never see.”

Giles has driven more than a million miles during his trucking career without an accident. That’s because he’s constantly on guard—checking the road ahead and checking mirrors every few seconds.

“A pickup truck just moved into the lane directly behind me without giving a signal. I don’t really know what his plan is, but I’ll keep an eye out for him,” he says.

You’d be amazed at what Giles has seen out on the road

Giles has seen just about everything out on the road—especially automobile drivers who are preoccupied with their cell phones. But he’s seen other types of distracted driving, too.

“I’ve seen people with newspapers on their steering wheels driving down the interstate—turning the pages of the newspaper,” Giles says. “I have seen people changing clothes, driving down the interstate.”

The dangers of distracted driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving is blamed for nine deaths and more than 1,000 people injured in crashes every day. The accidents happen because drivers take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, and their mind off of driving.

Tommy Giles has an important message for all drivers.

“I wish people would understand that it’s only one moment’s mistake out here on the road that can create a terrible tragedy,” he says.

Sharing the road

Here's some advice when sharing the road with big rig trucks:

  • Avoid traveling along the passenger side of a truck. That’s their biggest blind spot and you become invisible to the trucker.
  • Give trucks plenty of room to stop and maneuver.
  • Be sure to use your turn signals.

Another important note: Think about all the items you buy online or in a store. Truckers delivered every one of them. They're critical to a healthy economy.

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