Safety Tips FACE Reports

FACEValue: Mechanic dies in motor vehicle crash caused by distracted driving

Case report: 2012 IA 041*
Issued by: Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of incident: June 2012

A 37-year-old diesel mechanic employed by a railroad transportation company died when his utility truck crashed into the rear of a semi-trailer on a highway. The mechanic was driving during daylight hours when he failed to stop in time and struck the semi, which was moving slowly in traffic that had backed up because of a car fire. Fire and rescue responders arrived from a nearby town. The mechanic, who was wearing a safety belt, suffered blunt-force trauma as a result of the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene. When the victim’s body was removed from the truck, his left hand was found to be holding a cell phone. Law enforcement officers examined the phone’s activity and determined the victim had exchanged several voice or text messages prior to the crash and was initiating a voice or text message at the time of the crash.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Drivers should use cell phones and wireless communications devices only after pulling off the roadway and parking their vehicle.
  • Drivers should maintain a safe following distance, adjusting for weather, traffic, road conditions and visibility.
  • Employers should implement policies banning use of cell phones and in-vehicle technologies while driving.
  • States should adopt and enforce laws prohibiting the use of cell phones and wireless devices while driving.

*This report is the product of NIOSH’s Cooperative State partner. The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of NIOSH.