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Top Truck Driver Distractions That Cause Crashes

Fatal Truck Accidents

For years, distracted driving has been a growing cause of serious motor vehicle accidents, including those involving commercial truck drivers.  We now know the top distractions for truck drivers.

The most recent federal statistics show that more than 3,100 people died in distracted driving crashes in 2019. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any activity that causes a driver to lose focus on the task at hand, including:

·         Texting on a cell phone

·         Talking on a cell phone

·         Eating or drinking

·         Adjusting the radio

·         Talking to passengers

These examples of dangerous driving behaviors apply to all types of drivers. A new study pinpoints the top distractions for professional truck drivers and their dangerous consequences.

Omnitracs is a safety and efficiency software supplier to the trucking industry. In late July it released findings of its study on distracted truck drivers (“The SmartDrive Distracted Driving Insights for Trucking”). The study reviewed actual truck cab video and other sources encompassing some 29 billion driving miles over 12 months.

Leading Causes of Truck Driver Distractions

The study compared truck drivers who were in accidents during the study period to those who were not.  In general, they found that truckers in accidents were more distracted, ranging from 15% more distracted to as high as 90%, depending on the distracting activity.

Those dangerous truck driving activities captured in the study included:

·         Talking on a hand-held cell phone

·         Texting or dialing a cell phone

·         Talking on a hands-free cell phone

·         Operating a mobile device other than a cell phone

·         Food and beverage consumption

·         Smoking

Truckers who were in accidents were 90% more distracted using a hand-held cell phone compared to semi-truck drivers who were accident free.

Distracted Truck Drivers Who Speed

The study also revealed that distracted truck drivers were more likely to engage in other dangerous driving behaviors.  Those designated as “most distracted” based on the research observations were more than twice as likely to travel at least 10 mph over the speed limit as the “least distracted” truck drivers.

Similar results were found for failing to stop at an intersection.  In general, the most distracted truck drivers failed to stop at stop signs or stop lights at a rate three times higher than the least distracted truck drivers.  Truckers distracted by cell phones were even more dangerous, as they were four times less likely to obey traffic rules and properly stop at an intersection.

Distractions led to truck drivers swerving from their lanes. The most distracted truckers were three times more likely to drift out of their lanes compared to their least distracted counterparts, and nearly four times more likely to swerve unexpectedly when distracted by using a cell phone.

Federal law prohibits over-the-road truck drivers from using cell phones in a hand-held fashion.  But this study found how dangerous it can be when truckers are distracted even when texting or talking hands-free.

If you lost a loved one or you were seriously injured in a crash with a commercial truck, speak with an experienced truck accident attorney, who can conduct a thorough investigation to identify the negligent actions – and parties – that may have caused it.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog September 2, 2021