Life on the road
Survey captures dangers of distracted driving
Distracted commercial drivers, including those operating a hand-held device, eating or smoking, are 7.4 times more likely to be involved in a collision or near-collision, according to a recent study by SmartDrive Systems. The research data is derived from actual over-the-road events and distracted driving behaviors captured on video in the SmartDrive Safety program.
The recent study includes an analysis of collisions and near-collisions, and the behaviors that led up to those events. By analyzing in-cab activity captured on video in the 15 seconds prior to those events, SmartDrive safety evaluators were able to observe the most common distracted driving behaviors and ranked them as follows:
1. Operating a handheld device (texting on a cell phone, using a GPS navigator, etc.)
3. Talking on a mobile phone
For the quarter ending June 30, the SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index showed that just 5 percent of new drivers in the SmartDrive Safety program accounted for 33 percent of all recorded distracted driving incidents, and that they were responsible for 57 percent of all mobile phone incidents captured and 47 percent of all operating-handheld-device incidents.
“The problem of distracted driving is at the top of the [Obama] administration’s agenda for making America’s roadways safer,” says SmartDrive President Jason Pal-mer. “The findings of our recently released Distracted Driving Index and our correlation of distracted driving behaviors and collisions underscore what the U.S. Dept. of Transportation has been saying: If we can reduce distracted driving, we can save lives.
“In our study, text messaging and talking on a mobile phone are clearly present in the majority of observed distracted-driving incidents involving a collision or near-collision,” Palmer adds. “By tackling these types of distracted-driving behaviors early on, and coaching drivers to correct them before a serious event occurs, our SmartDrive Safety program is having an immediate, positive impact on highway safety.”
The SmartDrive study revealed that commercial drivers with the highest number of distracted driving observations were 7.4 times more likely to be involved in a collision or near collision when compared to drivers with the lowest number of distractions. The study group included more than 20,000 professional commercial drivers.
The distraction-collision study evaluated more than 7.5 million video events recorded since Jan. 1. The collision/near-collision data comparison included drivers who had re-corded at least one such incident in 2010.
In a news release announcing the 2010 Distracted Driving Summit, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted that, “Distracted driving-related crashes claimed 5,474 lives and led to 448,000 traffic injuries across the U.S. in 2009. These numbers show that distracted driving remains an epidemic in America.”
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research, distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of overall traffic fatalities in 2009. The NHTSA study found that the proportion of fatalities associated with driver distraction increased 60 percent between 2005 and 2009.