Blog Post

A Truck Driver's View on New Distracted Driving Smart Phone Features

Nov 01, 2017

This article previously appeared in the Q3 issue of CVSA’s Guardian Magazine

A Truck Driver’s View on New Distracted Driving Smart Phone Features

Hearing the news that a technology leader such as Apple developed a software update that will promote safer driving is amazing.  As a truck driver, I have to be very aware of my surroundings at all times, and the risk added to doing my job by other motorists texting and driving goes up dramatically for myself and everyone else on the road.  Being able to prevent accidents and save lives is my main focus, so having tech companies create features on phones that will prevent distracted driving is a great idea that should receive more attention.  I hope this is the first of many steps technology companies take in eliminating the distracted driving epidemic.

I put food on the table by safely delivering the goods that I’ve been enlisted to transport.  Every day, I see people using their phones while they are driving on the highway and in the city.  In five seconds, a car travels the full length of a football field at 55 miles per hour.  Just think about all the things that could go on while texting “hello” to someone.  Not having the temptation from a notification going off could drastically change the levels of safety on the roads.  The idea that technology companies could create software to prevent this from happening is revolutionary for safe driving.  Having people outside the trucking industry realize the benefits of eliminating distracted driving is encouraging and brings extra comfort to my family while I am out on the road.

In America, the leading cause of death for young drivers is distracted driving.  Eleven teens die every day as a result of texting and driving.  I also know that as an experienced driver, there is a sense of false confidence that comes from newly gained freedoms such as getting your first car or your license.  My message to younger drivers would be to utilize this new technology when it’s provided to you, for your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road.  No text is worth a life, and this is a great chance to practice safety when on the highway. Also installed in this software is an auto-reply system to let anyone who is trying to reach you know that you are in the car and do not need to be distracted.  This technology is simple to use and will be a great feature to have on your phone. Life is too short to be careless and endanger other drivers on the road.  I’ll definitely be using that feature!

From my years in the trucking community, I have always been a strong advocate for any innovations or technologies that could make the highways safer and eliminate distracted driving, but it oftentimes comes down to drivers making correct, safe decisions at every moment. I believe that the plan with this new operating system is a step towards creating a safer environment on the highway by keeping the general motoring public and other drivers off their phones and focused on the road.  I think that in this time of great technological advances and technological dependency, there is a need to create methods to keep people off of their phones when they should not be on them. I think I speak for other truck drivers when I say tech companies are moving in the right direction with their desire to address the issue of texting and driving and I hope to see other tech companies promote safety and eliminate distracted driving as well.

I have taught my kids from a young age to put down their phones while in the car.  This first step taken to help prevent distracted driving is great and brings attention to the issue of distracted driving.  In our day and age, phones have become such a big part of our lives.  Most of the responsibility to avoid distracted driving falls upon the discipline of the driver.  Educating the general public and your kids on how to practice safe driving and form good habits of driving are critical to keeping the roads safe.  

Moving forward, I would love to see the tech community begin to create similar, user-friendly software to promote highway safety and responsibility on the roads.  This great technology has become such a big part of peoples’ lives that it has become even more difficult to go without your phone.  The positive impact that putting away your phone could have on highway safety puts us one step closer to reducing accidents and preventing unnecessary injuries. Efforts to eliminate distracted driving need to become the norm, not the exception and I’m proud that as an America’s Road Team Captain, I get the chance to spread these safety messages to new audiences each day. 

Steve Smalley

America’s Road Team Captain

Professional Truck Driver for ABF Freight