Distracted truckers less safe, study reveals

by Today's Trucking

Most distracted drivers are less safe overall, commit significantly more fundamental driving errors, and drive faster than the speed limit compared to all other drivers, data analysis has revealed.

(Illustration: Omnitracs)

Omnitracs, a Solera company, last week published new insights on distracted driving in the trucking industry. These insights, which aggregate and anonymize data from the SmartDrive video-based analytics platform, help fleets understand operational threats and illuminate the inherent risks associated with distracted driving. 

“Preliminary National Safety Council (NSC) data indicates that 42,060 people died in motor vehicles crashes in 2020,” said Jason Palmer, general manager, transportation, Omnitracs.

“That’s an 8% rise from 2019, and 2020 was a year where people drove significantly less frequently because of the pandemic. In addition, the rate of death on the roads spiked 24% over the previous 24-month period, despite miles driven dropping 13%. Unfortunately, distracted driving is still an epidemic.” 

 Analysis of in-cab video and observation data gathered over 29 billion driving miles show that distracted drivers are more likely than all other drivers to have a near collision, fail to stop at an intersection, and exceed the speed limit.

For fleets, this increases the risk of collisions and the costs associated when one occurs. The data also confirms the widely held assumption that mobile devices are the predominant cause of distracted driving.

 The SmartDrive Distracted Driving Insights for Trucking illuminates key observations that distinguish distracted drivers — including those using mobile devices — during the 12-month analysis period. 

(Illustration: Omnitracs)

With validation through video analysis, these findings prove that distraction has a correlation to near collisions and collisions, and the most distracted drivers are significantly more dangerous than others (and least likely to wear seatbelts). 

Significant conclusions include:

  • The most distracted drivers are 72% more likely to be involved in a near collision than all other drivers. 
  • Drivers distracted heavily by mobile phones are twice as likely to be involved in collisions.
  • Drivers identified as “most distracted” roll through stop signs and traffic lights at a rate 2.7 times higher than “least distracted” drivers. 
  • Drivers distracted heavily by mobile phones had speed incidents with 10+ mph over the speed limit at a rate 3.2 times higher than “least distracted” drivers.
  • Drivers identified as “most distracted” drift out of lane at a rate 2.3 times higher than “least distracted” drivers. Drivers identified as “most distracted” fail to wear a seatbelt at a rate over three times higher than “least distracted” drivers.

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