To quote the late great Jim Morrison of The Doors, "Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel." Maybe Jim was giving us a little insight into our current state, or maybe he was just stating the obvious?
At any rate, most of you are probably aware; the US government has issued a ban on truckers and bus drivers from texting while driving. This has evoked quite a stir in the transportation community and I think the consensus is that it's the right thing to do. When you factor in the risk of potential accidents and the safety of those around you, it certainly becomes an issue that can't (and shouldn't) be ignored. The purpose of the ban is certainly not single out those driving the big rigs, but is instead a broader effort aimed at improving the driving habits of ALL drivers, professional and non-professional. I applaud the government and Secretary Ray LaHood for taking a stance, but I think we should also take a step back and look at how we got here... innovation!
I recently commented on an industry link regarding this very topic. Necessity is the Mother of Invention. Somewhere down this long and winding road we've travelled we determined that we needed better communication, real-time information and the ability to 'know' what we otherwise wouldn't have known: who, what, where, when and why. Our customers and suppliers are demanding that degree of information and we live in a "now" world.
Are we better for it? My opinion is yes.
Does it come with a price? Well, it appears that it does.
Once we finally embraced the technology that so many in the trucking industry once knocked, it appears that they want to take it away, or at least restrict and govern the use of it... go figure!
I have to take a step back and chuckle at this and comments made by Thom Williams (who contributes a blog to BTTV as well) on that same link... "Hey people, where is our common sense?!"
We finally adopt a set of tools that can make all our lives easier, allow us to stay in touch with family and friends while on the road, eliminate hours of paperwork and give us the ability to be more productive, leading to more money in our pockets (if embraced properly) and 'we' let our common sense escape us!
Perhaps we should look at this as a wakeup call?
FMCSA research shows that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting. At 55 mph, this means that the vehicle is travelling the length of a football field without looking at the road. Let's face it, professional drivers rolling up and down our nation's highways and byways are the easy targets. And it's easy to get our backs up and feel like we're are at the wrong end of a finger pointing, but it's our own fault. So instead of turning this into a negative, let's use this to set an example and show the rest of those folks who we share the road with that we are as much, if not more concerned about their safety, than they are. That we are a sophisticated breed who can manipulate through traffic in a multi-ton machine and communicate at the appropriate times using high tech communication toys with those in the supply chain; that we execute our duties to the best of our ability so that folks riding in those little vehicles that surround us like ants on a picnic sandwich can have access to all the wonderful amenities' that we are delivering to their communities.
And those of us in the transportation community, who think we are being singled out, let it be known that President Obama himself, who has been seen sporting a Blackberry, signed an Executive Order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles or government owned equipment. Federal employees were required to comply with the ban starting this past December 30, 2009.
Right or wrong we put ourselves in this situation. Let us not throw stones at the law makers, but rather go back to using our common sense!