Wandering Minds Driving Increased Accident Rate in Trucking Industry

  • September 26, 2017 /
  • by Andrew /
  • driver safety, fleet safety, trucking risk, trucking safety /
  • Leave a comment

shutterstock_180465452When the mind wanders, also known as zoning out, individuals are less aware of their surroundings. This is obviously an undesirable state for truck drivers, but it is woefully common. Zoning out can happen while performing monotonous tasks or during engaging activities, so it can be difficult to avoid.

It can also prove lethal when behind the wheel, as exemplified by driver Normand Lavoie. The courts sentenced Lavoie to three years in prison for striking and killing three youths as well as injuring a construction zone worker. Lavoie testified that his mind was wandering when he drove through a construction site. Lavoie was not under the influence of any substances at the time of the crash nor was he in violation of any Hours of Service (HOS) rules.

What Causes Mind Wandering?

Many assume that boring tasks are more likely to cause mind wandering, but it can occur during engaging tasks as well. The brain reverts to this state by design. In fact, humans spend as much as 50% of their time mind wandering. For example, if the current activity a person is performing is not stimulating enough, their mind will drift to a more exciting topic. Unfortunately, this is a leading cause of motor accidents.

How to Prevent Mind Wandering

Many truckers turn on the radio or sing in an attempt to thwart zoning out, but this is a flawed approach. There is no evidence that it reduces mind wandering, and it can even serve as a distraction itself if the driver is paying closer attention to the radio than to the road. The only surefire way to prevent it is to be aware of it while it is happening. The best method to achieve this is meditation (not while driving). Meditation allows individuals to take control of their attention and focus it when needed.

Unlike distracted driving, drowsy driving, and driving under the influence, mind wandering is harder to control. Drivers who take proactive steps to reduce mind wandering will be less prone to accidents. To learn more about improving transportation safety, contact the experts at Envirun.