Reaching for an object and reading were the top two secondary tasks truck drivers performed which increased the risk of being in an unsafe event or crash, according to a VTTI study.  -  Photo: VTTI

Reaching for an object and reading were the top two secondary tasks truck drivers performed which increased the risk of being in an unsafe event or crash, according to a VTTI study.

Photo: VTTI

Funnily enough, a recent study found that dancing and singing reduced the risk of a driver being involved in an unsafe event on the road. But most other secondary tasks or distractions — including reaching for an object or adjusting vehicle electronics— increased the risk of an unsafe event or incident.

During a study presentation at the Fleet Safety Conference in California on Nov. 11, Susan Soccolich, research associate with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s Division of Freight, Transit and Heavy Vehicle Safety, broke down the results from a study which tracked driving habits of drivers at seven fleets.

VTTI studied drivers for up to two years with five video cameras: forward, face, over-the-shoulder, left mirror and right mirror. Sensors were triggered when the following safety critical events occurred: a crash, near crash, crash-relevant conflict and unintentional lane deviation.

Triggers happened during hard braking events, when a truck deviated from a lane line, sudden jerks of the steering wheel, and a time-to-collision measurement of less than or equal to 2 second. (TTC is the time it would take two vehicles to collide if one vehicle did not perform an evasive maneuver.)

Top 10 Truck Driver Distracitons

In the study, VTTI gave each distraction type an “odds ratio” value. A value less than 1 indicates that the task decreased the risk of being involved in an unsafe event, while a value grated than 1 indicates the risk of being involved in an unsafe event.

According to the research, the top 10 distractions that increased the risk of an unsafe event or incident were:

  1. Reaching for an object (4.57)
  2. Reading (3.27)
  3. Adjusting/monitoring devices integral to the vehicle (3.31)
  4. Removing/adjusting clothes (3.01)
  5. Adjusting or using an electronic device (other than an electronic dispatching device) (2.87)
  6. Reaching for food- or drink-related object (1.67)
  7. Adjusting or using an electronic dispatching device (1.44)
  8. External distraction (1.21)
  9. Tobacco use (1.16)
  10. Eating (1.11)

The tasks that decreased the risk of being in an unsafe event were talking/singing (.60) and dancing (.40).

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