Findings released from a new study this week report that texting while driving increases the chance that a truck driver will be involved in a truck crash or near-accident by 23 times. Researches from Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute looked at commercial trucking information from two studies—one in 2003 and the other in 2007. 203 truck drivers who drove over 3 million miles took part in the studies. The institute studied 4,452 events considered “safety-critical,” including 197 near accidents and 21 truck crashes.
Video cameras were installed in large trucks that were used to shoot footage of truck drivers’ facial reactions in the final seconds right before a near miss truck crash or an actual truck accident. The footage showed that the main reason texting while driving is so dangerous for truck drivers is that they have to take their eyes off the road.
The institute’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety Rich Hanowski says that taking one’s eyes off the road when driving for more than two seconds is dangerous. Yet in the last six seconds right before these truck accidents and near collisions, a number of the truckers spent 4.6 seconds with their eyes on their communication device rather than the road. In that length of time, a truck moving at 55mph will have traveled a football field’s length.
Hanowski also said it was important to note that texting while driving isn’t just dangerous for truck drivers, it’s a safety risk for all drivers who do it. While it will be illegal for all Maryland motorists to text while driving October 2009—this isn’t always enough to get drivers to stop texting while driving. Yet the consequences can be catastrophic, such as when a large tractor-trailer ends up slamming into a small passenger car because a trucker was busy checking messages.
Texting while driving riskier than thought, study finds, Chicago Tribune, July 29, 2009
Texting and Driving Don’t Mix, The Washington Post, July 29, 2009
New Data from VTTI Provides Insight into Cell Phone Use and Driving Distraction, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, July 27, 2009 (PDF)
Related Web Resources:
Cell Phone Driving Laws, GHSA, July 2009
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