While all commercial truck drivers and their massive rigs represent a major danger to other drivers on the road, it stands to reason that the most negligent of drivers present the highest risks. Now, unfortunately, that assumption has been proven to be true.

A company that markets products to commercial trucking fleets designed to reduce collisions conducted an exhaustive truck driver study and released the findings in April, deemed Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council. Not only do the findings reveal the negligent actions of truck drivers, it also highlights that some truck drivers are significantly and repeatedly distracted during high-risk conditions on the road.

The study analyzed 15.1 million events captured in truck cabs on video and audio, and data secured by in-vehicle recorder boxes throughout 2012. Researched isolated events they labeled as risky maneuvers, such as swerves, sudden stops, speeding, and several others.

Top Distractions of Commercial Truck Drivers

The researchers identified the top truck driver distractions, which included:

  • Cell phone calls
  • Texting
  • Eating
  • Doing paperwork

The most glaring find is that the top 5 percent of distracted commercial truck drivers were distracted during 79 percent of the documented risky maneuvers. To put it another way, those top 5 percent were distracted nearly six times more than the rest of the drivers when attention to the road mattered the most.

Quarter of Truck Drivers Speeding Found Using Cell Phones

The study uncovered that – to no one’s surprise – mobile phones are a major distraction to commercial drivers, accounting for 27 percent of all causes. Cell phone usage encompassed talking and texting using both hands-free and hand-held phones. The most negligent of the drivers in the study were found to be using mobile phones 29 times more than the rest of the field. During incidents of speeding, 25 percent of all truckers were found to be using cell phones.

Further still, what the study called “Objects in Hand,” accounted for 31 percent of truck driver distractions. This category was the most frequently found risky truck driver behavior and includes a wide range of actions, such as personal grooming, searching for objects in the cab or simply handling an object while behind the wheel.

No one knows better than truck drivers and trucking companies just how deadly accidents with large commercial vehicles can be. It’s their responsibility, therefore, to put an end to preventable causes of trucking driving accidents, like distracted driving. And when such catastrophic accidents occur, they should be held accountable.