The most distracted truck drivers are nearly 72% more likely to be involved in a “near collision” than other drivers, according to new data insights released July 22 by Omnitracs.
The company said that the data analysis, based on aggregated and anonymized data from its SmartDrive video‐based analytics platform among trucking fleets, “clearly demonstrates that the 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.”
And despite federal law limiting commercial drivers while driving to using only a hands-free phone “located in close proximity,” the report shows that “drivers who are distracted by mobile phones are three times more likely to drive 10 plus miles over the speed limit.” Given the danger inherent in that noncompliance, perhaps it is little wonder that SmartDrive data also indicates that the most distracted drivers are less likely to wear a seatbelt.
Or as Omnitracs puts it sharply, “The data analysis clearly demonstrates that the 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.”
More specifically, the analysis of in‐cab video and observation data — gathered over 29 billion driving miles — shows 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. Omnitracs also noted that this “confirms the widely held assumption that mobile devices are the predominant cause of distracted driving.”
These latest insights were developed over a 12-month analysis period and validated via video analysis. Omnitracs said the 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).
Other significant conclusions include:
- Truck drivers distracted heavily by mobile phones are involved in collisions at a rate 2 times higher than the least distracted drivers
- Drivers identified as “most distracted” roll through stop signs and traffic lights at a rate 2.7 times higher than the least distracted drivers
- Drivers distracted heavily by mobile phones had speed incidents of 10 plus mph over the speed limit at a rate 3.2 times higher than the least distracted drivers
- Drivers identified as “most distracted” drift out of lane at a rate 2.3 times higher than those identified as “least distracted” drivers.
- Drivers identified as “most distracted” fail to wear a seatbelt at a rate over 3 times higher than “least distracted” drivers
A key aspect of the methodology was performing “distraction segmentation” three times, once for each subset of distraction types:
- All Distractions (a total of 13 types of distractions): Drivers in the highest 25% bracket for distraction observation rate (distraction observations per 1,000 hours) for each company in a given month. (Minimum of three distraction observations.)
- Mobile Only (a subset of four types of distraction): Drivers in the highest 25% bracket for mobile phone observation rate for each company in a given month. (Minimum of three mobile phone distraction observations.)
- Non-Mobile (a subset of nine types of distraction): Drivers in the highest 25% bracket for non-mobile phone distraction observation rate for each company in a given month. (Minimum of three non-mobile phone distraction observations.)
"Preliminary National Safety Council data indicates that 42,060 people died in motor vehicles crashes in 2020,” commented Jason Palmer, Omnitracs’ general manager, Transportation Intelligence. “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.”
The complete Distracted Driving Data Insights report is available from Omnitracs online. It includes a list of nine top tips to help fleets eliminate distracted driving in their operations.
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