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Truckers and distracted driving: NHTSA statistics reveal a danger

We have frequently posted about the dangers of phone-related distractions while driving. Like most other traffic hazards, these risks are amplified when the distracted driver is behind the wheel of a large truck. Although interstate truck drivers are prohibited from using a cell-phone while driving on interstate routes, federal statistics report that five percent of semi-truck crashes involved a distracted driver.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released a report on fatal crashes in 2010. According to the statistics cited in the report, ten percent of all fatal accidents involved distracted driving. The agency defined distractions broadly, including daydreaming, rubbernecking at other crashes, and any phone-related tasks (not necessarily limited to texting or talking).

Distracted driving was less of a problem for large truck drivers. Only five percent of fatal truck crashes involved distractions. Of those, nine percent involved a cell phone despite laws prohibiting any handheld use of a phone while driving a truck.

Although the rate of distraction-related crashes is lower for large truckers, it is nevertheless very disturbing that so many truckers ignore laws prohibiting cell-phone use. Given the huge risks involved in losing momentary control over a large, 18- wheel truck, even the smallest voluntary distraction is extremely reckless.

Across all vehicle categories, phone-related distractions accounted for 408 fatalities and around 24,000 injuries in 2010.

Source: Trucking Info, "9/25/2012 NHTSA: Nearly 10% of Fatal Crashes Involved Distracted Driving," Sept. 25, 2012 

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