Distracted Drivers In The Spotlight

Tim Crowley
Posted on July 31, 2013

Driving can seem like an easy job. Once you get the hang of it, it can feel like an autopilot kind of takes over and the car steers itself through the ebb and flow of traffic. The mind wanders. Hands find their way to a phone to send a text, make a call, do something, because after all, the effort of driving doesn’t really take that much.

Oh, but it does.


It only takes one second. One moment of distraction. One careless mistake, and lives can easily be lost.


The reports coming out about the behavior of the driver of the train in Spain that derailed last week, killing 79 people, are enough to make your head shake. The fact that he was posting on Facebook about taking his train well beyond the speed limit prior to the crash, and now reports that he was on his cell phone during the crash, and also the account of his bereaved words after the crash that he wanted to die, it all points toward negligence — to what degree as to be determined.


The chauffeur in the San Mateo fire is also alleged to have been on the phone with his estranged wife during the moments leading up to the fire.


And there is also the 2008 Metrolink commuter train crash in Los Angeles that was caused by the conductor missing a red light sign and plowing into a Union Pacific locomotive, killing 25. It came out later he had been texting up to 21 times the morning of the crash, right up until about one minute before the crash.


A study conducted by the AAA last month, concluded that even hands-free, eyes-free phone systems cause significant distractions to drivers. It’s not just about holding the phone to your ear or looking down at a text. The cognitive abilities of drivers communicating on hands free devices, were shown in the tests to be distracted enough to neglect to see stop signs and pedestrians in plain view.


With this all in mind, it shows just how important a chauffeur’s job is.


Beyond the hospitality aspect, there is the safety aspect of the job which no operator can afford to overlook, and requires dedicated vigilance for as long as the business lives.


— Tim Crowley, LCT senior editor


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