Food truck owners and drivers Beware! Although Twitter is the major source of mobile food truck location advertising, there are some things you should be aware of if you are currently tweeting out your location while moving to your next parking spot. Driving while texting on a smart phone or similar electronic device is not new, but it may be the most deadly way to endanger yourself or others on the road.
To date, twenty states and Washington, D.C., have banned this practice. The Transportation Department prohibits truckers and bus drivers from doing it. President Obama has even outlawed the practice for all federal employees.
Despite all these laws and practices, many people still text while driving.
In a 2010 safety report issued by the Highway Loss Data Institute (research sponsored by insurance carriers), state laws prohibiting texting while driving have not reduced car crashes, and in some places may have actually increased the number of accidents.
US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the study “misleading,” and released a statement saying that his department’s research showed that distracted driving laws could, in fact, reduce crashes.
A 2008 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) showed that nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve some form of driver distraction occurring within three seconds before the vehicle crash. According to the NHTSA and VTTI study, the principal distraction that led to vehicle crashes include:
- Cell phone use.
- Reaching for objects inside the vehicle.
- Gawking at an object or event outside of the vehicle.
- Applying makeup.
- Reading while driving.
Cell phones with text-messaging capabilities further increase the risk of driver distraction. Drivers multitasking while operating their company trucks has become common practice and is a primary factor in driver distraction. Use of Twitter or other forms of text messaging while driving is a dangerous habit. According to an Australian study, drivers who engage in mobile texting spend about 400-percent more time taking their eyes off the road and are 70 percent less likely to stay in their lane.
It is not uncommon to see drivers resting a BlackBerry or Iphone on top of their steering wheel while using their thumbs to tap in a text message. A driver talking on a cell phone can watch the road, but someone responding to a text message must stare at his or her hands.
Tweeting is fine when you’re sitting at your current stop or before you leave to get there, but not while driving. Food truck owners need to get ahead of the curve and proactively prohibit this activity by themselves and their employees. Drivers need to be given notice that there is zero tolerance to use these devices while driving the company vehicle. Not only will this safeguard the business and its assets, but also to protect the employee, your greatest asset.