Institute releases findings on bus, truck driver distractions

November 18, 2010

Findings from a new naturalistic study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in Blacksburg show truck and bus drivers are very likely to be involved in a crash if they are reaching for or dialing a cell phone.

The study, commissioned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, was based on data collected from 13,000 commercial motor vehicles over a one-year period. Data was collected by San Diego-based DriveCam -- a vendor of onboard safety monitoring systems -- and showed 1,075 crashes, 8,375 near crashes and 30,661 crash-relevant conflicts. Researchers concluded that:

  • The act of talking on a cell phone did not show an increased risk, although the steps drivers take to use their cell phone does increase crash risk.
  • Truck and bus drivers who dialed a cell phone while operating their vehicle increased their odds of being in a crash by 3.5 times, compared with drivers who were not dialing a cell phone.
  • The odds of being in a crash or safety-critical event were 1.1 times greater when the driver was using a cell phone than when the drier was not.