What are truck drivers getting up to behind the wheel?

09/02/2012

Recent reports over the weekend, from France, have highlighted the increasing number of lorry drivers being caught not paying full attention to the roads whilst driving and the dangers this causes to other drivers on the road.

French officials are worried about the increasing number of lorry drivers being caught watching DVDs behind the wheel and the danger of accident this causes. In 2010, 324 drivers were caught watching a film whilst driving in France. In response they have increased the fine for being caught watching a DVD whilst driving from €135 to €1500 (approximately £111 to £1237).

Other bizarre cases of drivers not paying full attention to the roads whilst driving included a driver who was found to be practicing the drums and other drivers who have been seen cooking on portable stoves.

The problem is not only common in France. According to British drivers it is increasingly happening in the UK too.

Andy Hartwell, a truck driver from Bury St Edmunds described the cab of a lorry and did not excuse the behavior of a lot of drivers he has seen on the road.

Bear in mind this is where you live as well as work. I saw one trucker come past me and he was watching a film on a laptop. I’ve seen drivers reading a book resting on the steering wheel.”

Simon Matthews, from Taunton, who has been driving trucks for 12 years, said,

“I saw it a couple of weeks ago, I think I was on the M25. I was in the first lane and a driver came past me in the second lane. I could see straight into his cab. He had his hands on the wheel, but the laptop was in front of his steering wheel and it wasn’t small either – it must have been a 16in screen. I haven’t seen that when it’s directly in front of the driver before, but I’ve seen many where they’ve got a screen on the dashboard angled towards the driver.”

He also gave his reasons as to why he believes that problem is becoming more common.

“Technology, laptops and portable DVD players are cheap. He has also seen drivers heating up food on small portable stoves by their seats “and then eating out the saucepan as they’re driving along”.

Another driver, Michael Stopps from Milton Keynes added that he has also seen other truck drivers driving along the M1 whilst watching a DVD and has heard of other incidents involving drivers cooking, preparing food or getting changed behind the wheel.

“They’re all over the road a lot of the time. I went past one driver at 7am and he’s taking half of the hard shoulder up, half in the slow lane and he’s pouring a bowl of cornflakes and getting the milk out, you have to wonder what these drivers are thinking.”

It is unclear whether similar action will be taken in the UK as in France with in an increase in fine for offending drivers.