Study: Distracted truck drivers are a growing problem

Birmingham sits at a crossroads of sorts, with interstate highways cutting through and around our city in every direction.  To the east is Atlanta and to the west, Tupelo and Starkville. Drive to the south and you’ll find Montgomery. To the north sits Huntsville – and further north, Nashville.

When truck drivers pull into Birmingham, they’re either headed to an interesting city or have just come from one.

A compelling study of truckers

Safe trucking might be more important here than it is in most other cities around the nation. That’s why we found a recent study of distracted truck drivers and commercial truck accidents so compelling.

According to logistics telematics company Omnitracs, distracted truckers are 72 percent more likely to be in a “near collision” than other truck drivers.

“Significantly more . . . errors”

The company said its data analysis “clearly demonstrates that the most distracted drivers are less safe overall,” adding that distracted truckers “commit significantly more fundamental driving errors and drive faster than the speed limit compared to all other drivers.”

As truck drivers know, federal law requires them to use only a hands-free phone that’s “in close proximity.” Regardless, there are truck drivers who are distracted by their phones, text messages, email, social media posts, etc. (It should be noted that distracted driving is not limited to truckers.)

Speeding, too

Omnitracs says distracted truckers tend to be speeding truckers, who are “three times more likely to drive 10-plus miles over the speed limit.”

These distracted, speeding commercial truck drivers “are less safe overall” than truckers who observe speed limits and pay attention to traffic and highways rather than their phones.

The company said it analyzed data and in-cab video recordings of truckers conducted over a 12-month period.

More insights from the study

Other conclusions arrived at by Omnitracs include the following:

  • Truckers distracted by their phones are twice as likely to be involved in crashes than truck drivers least distracted.
  • Truckers who are “most distracted” are 2.7 times more likely to roll through traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Distracted truckers drift out of their lane 2.3 times more often than drivers identified as least distracted.
  • Truckers identified as “most distracted” are three times as likely to fail to wear a seatbelt.

Even though people drove 13 percent less last year, there was an 8 percent increase in fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2020 over 2019.

Said an Omnitracs spokesperson, “unfortunately, distracted driving is still an epidemic.”

As our Birmingham legal blog readers know, commercial trucks are many times bigger and heavier than even the biggest, heaviest passenger vehicles. Experienced legal representation fights for those who are injured in commercial truck accidents, and for those families that lose loved ones in violent truck wrecks.

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