Communicating Intent – Part III

Welcome to the third and final installment of our blockbuster series, Communicating Intent. We’ve covered quite a bit so far, so now it’s time to end on a high note. Considering you are driving a large vehicle, communication is vitally important to making sure you are driving safely every time.

In this final installment, we are going to cover communication basics that surround how we use basic communication tools and how we decipher communication from others. The first communication tool we are going to take a look at is the most common one: Your cell phone.

Cell Phone Usage

Like a CB Radio, if used properly and legally, a cell phone can be an effective communication tool. Even so, remember that section 392.82 of the FMCSRs prohibits truck drivers from using a handheld communication device while operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

There are several scenarios outlined in the policy, and they include:

  • Using at least one hand to hold a cell phone while conducting voice communication;
  • Dialing or answering the cell phone by pressing more than one button;
  • Reaching for a cell phone in such a way that causes the operator to maneuver out of a seated or seat belt restrained driving position.

Use of cell phones is allowed if it is necessary to get in contact with law enforcement officials or any other type of emergency services. Still, if possible, it is best to pull of the road to a safe area before using a cell phone.

Text Messaging

Text messaging is absolutely prohibited while you are operating a CMV. Texting itself is defined as manually entering text into, or reading text from, a mobile device.

This includes actions such as:

  • E-mailing;
  • Instant messaging;
  • Short messaging;
  • Accessing a webpage or surfing the internet;
  • Any other forms of electronic text retrieval or electronic text entry, whether for present or future communication.

Again, as with voice calls, texting is allowed if you are intending to contact law enforcement or other emergency services. But again, you should also try to bring the vehicle to a stop if you can before texting.

Deciphering Communication From Others

As a professional truck driver, not only must you know how to effectively communicate your intentions to those around you, you must be able to watch for and understand the communications coming from others on the road, whether they are directly communicating with you or not.

First, you will want to watch for the most obvious signs of communication, which include turn signals, lights and horns. But beyond that, there are a number of other, more subtle forms of driver communication that you will want to watch out for.

One such example is driver movement in the vehicle. If you see a driver shifting around, looking around, or peering into a mirror, this may indicate a potential directional change. Remember, other drivers may not be as conscientious as you are, so it is important for you to be able to properly gauge what they are doing without them needing to directly inform you.

Carefully observing other vehicles can give you direct clues into a driver’s intentions. Sudden slowing or a slight position change in their lane could indicate they are about to change direction. If a car is parked, watch for turned wheels or visible exhaust, as this may mean they are about to enter the roadway.

Overall, be alert to the obvious, and sometimes not so obvious. But most importantly, don’t let your careful observation of others distract you from your driving. The last thing you want is to potentially cause an accident because you were so busy trying to avoid one.

With that, our series on communicating intent comes to an end. We hope you’ve learned a few valuable things about why proper road communication – from both you and others – is so important. So next time you get out onto the road, keep communication in mind.