Drivers throughout Illinois, both passenger vehicle drivers and truckers, are becoming more vulnerable than ever to distractions. These distractions used to be mainly eating and drinking, adjusting the radio or turning on the AC. Now, however, drivers have phones, navigation systems and other technology that’s liable to steal their attention from the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that in 2016, 9.2% of vehicle-related fatalities were due to distractions: 3,450 deaths in all. The 2018 Risk Index report from the insurance company Travelers found that 23% of drivers in the U.S. use personal technology behind the wheel. Lack of education doesn’t seem to be the problem as 8 in 10 acknowledged that distracted driving is unsafe.

Truckers have a more urgent need to avoid distraction since the rigs they drive can do more damage in an accident. Trucking companies, then, should set up a comprehensive safety strategy that covers distracted driving. Perhaps they could remind truckers during a monthly safety meeting about the risks of distracted driving.

Instilling defensive driving in truckers is also important. This means, among other things, going the speed limit and never following too closely to other vehicles. Senior- and mid-level management must set a safe example, too, or truckers may not take the instructions seriously.

The driver of a passenger vehicle may be injured at the hands of a distracted truck driver. Some truck accidents do lead to personal injury claims against the trucking company, but such claims can be hard to argue on one’s own. The injured driver may consider hiring a lawyer for the filing process; it all starts with a case assessment. The lawyer may be able to negotiate with the other side’s legal team for a fair settlement out of court.