Study Finds Top Distracted Truckers are REALLY Distracted

May 8, 2013

Driver distraction is a big issue that is getting increased attention from safety experts, the government and the media. But until now, no one has defined the distracted driving rate among commercial truck drivers. A recent study, however, found that distracted truck drivers are REALLY distracted.

The SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index study concluded that the top 5% of commercial vehicle drivers are distracted 79% of the time during risky driving maneuvers nearly six times more often than the rest of drivers. The study compiled information from the in-vehicle, video event recorders that capture video, audio and vehicle data during sudden stops, swerves, collisions and other risky driving maneuvers. These events were analyzed, categorized and scored. The study evaluated more than 15.1 million video events recorded over the course of 2012. Through in-depth review and analysis SmartDrive was able to quantify distractions such as mobile phone usage texting as well as talking, eating, drinking, doing paperwork, personal hygiene, smoking and other personal activities. The percentages reflect how often a distraction was observed when a risky driving maneuver was recorded. The study found the following most common driver distractions:

  • Object in hand: 31%
  • Mobile phone: 27%
  • Smoking: 23%
  • Beverage: 9%
  • Food: 8%
  • Reading Paperwork: 2%
  • The most common distractions while speeding were:
  • Object in hand: 27%
  • Mobile phone: 25%
  • Smoking: 14%
  • Beverage: 19%
  • Food: 15%
  • Reading Paperwork: 1%

Of the most distracted drivers observed, the study found that mobile phone usage continues to be a top distraction at 27%, which includes hands-free talking, handheld talking and texting. According to the National Safety Council 23% of all collisions in 2011 involved mobile phone usage, resulting in 1.3 million collisions. In addition, object in hand, which includes manipulation of objects, searching for objects, personal grooming, and others, is also particularly risky and a more common distraction compared to the others. The study also found that top distracted commercial drivers were talking on mobile phones 29 times more than the rest of the drivers as well as did 19 times more texting than the rest of the drivers. This shows a habitual pattern with top distracted drivers leading to risky driving behaviors, researchers said. Manipulating an object while driving continues to be the biggest cause of distractions. Over 24% of distracted drivers were eating and drinking while speeding. "This study showcases the cause of distracted driving which applies not only to commercial drivers but to the motoring public," said Steve Mitgang, CEO, SmartDrive. "SmartDrive looks at this study as an opportunity for fleet managers and drivers alike to take note of exactly what is causing the distractions and then we help them evaluate the best steps to decrease those distractions; thereby create a safer, and ultimately, more profitable operation."

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