The top 5% distracted drivers of commercial vehicles are distracted 79% of the time during risky driving maneuver. That's nearly six times more often than the rest of the drivers, according to the initial results of the SmartDrive Distracted Driving Index study, which explores the distracted driving rate of commercial fleets. 

Released during the National Safety Council’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the study summarizes the 2012 performance of commercial drivers observed during a benchmark period prior to and after starting the SmartDrive Safety program.

The study compiles information from the in-vehicle, video event recorders that capture video, audio and vehicle data during sudden stops, swerves, collisions and other risky driving maneuvers. These events are analyzed, categorized and scored according to 70+ safety observations.

The study evaluated more than 15.1 million video events recorded over the course of 2012. Through in-depth review and analysis by SmartDrive Expert Safety Analysts, SmartDrive is able to quantify distractions such as mobile phone usage – texting as well as talking, eating, drinking, doing paperwork, personal hygiene and other personal activities. The percentages reflect how often a distraction was observed when a risky driving maneuver was recorded.

Top distracted drivers used mobile phones 29 times more than the rest.

Of the most distracted drivers observed, the study found that mobile phone usage continues to be a top distraction at 27%, which includes handsfree talking, handheld talking and texting. According to the National Safety Council 23% of all collisions in 2011 involved mobile phone usage, resulting in 1.3 million collisions.

In addition, object in hand, which includes manipulation of objects, searching for objects, personal grooming, and others, is also particularly risky and a more common distraction compared to the others.

The study also found that top distracted commercial drivers were talking on mobile phones 29 times more than the rest of the drivers as well as 19 times more texting than the rest of the drivers. This shows a habitual pattern with top distracted drivers leading to risky driving behaviors.

Over 30% of Distracted Drivers Were Eating and Drinking while Speeding

Mobile phone usage is the single most common distraction of all drivers during speeding at 25%. Object in hand at 27% shows similar behavior pattern we’ve observed with mobile phone usage – that manipulating an object while driving continues to be the biggest cause of distractions. 

Interestingly, when food and beverages are combined, it represented 34% of the most common distractions during speeding of all drivers.