The bottom line is that the majority of drivers agree that distracted driving is on the rise, but also that "it's the other guy" who is to blame.
The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive for Netradyne, polled some 350 commercial drivers over a three-week period earlier this year. These drivers on average were on the road about 7.4 hours each day transporting construction materials (33 percent), local goods (30 percent) and foods or plants (20 percent).
The majority of commercial drivers responding to the survey (70 percent) said they wanted better blind spot detection to help alleviate distractions. And 72 percent agreed that their commercial driver peers are safe drivers. Not surprisingly, commercial drivers gave low safety marks to drivers of sports cars (38 percent) and drivers in convertibles (26 percent).
Distracted driving is on the rise
The vast majority of drivers (86 percent) say that they feel safe while driving, and that driving is becoming safer. However:
81 percent are concerned that distractions are on the rise.
Top five distractions for commercial drivers are drinking liquids, events outside the vehicle, looking at a GPS device, adjusting the in-vehicle audio and fiddling with vehicle controls.
Social media and surfing the net is the most severe distraction experienced by commercial drivers. 71 percent of commercial drivers who've accessed social media and the net while driving found it distracting.
Video and facetime chatting while driving is considered the second most severe distraction. 68 percent of commercial drivers who've taken part in those chats while driving found it distracting.
22 percent of commercial drivers have been injured in a distracted driving incident.
Survey respondents answered that they regularly prepare ahead of time the things that could cause them to become distracted once they are on the road. For example, 59 percent say they set their GPS before starting the engine and driving off, and 55 percent said they set the music they want to listen to for the entire trip.
Drivers have mixed feelings about AI
Drivers told the survey that they do find artificial intelligence technology useful in route planning, road conditions, and driving events, but that this extra technology to learn and employ does come with a distraction factor; which Netradyne attributes to AI technology being misunderstood.
From the survey:
AI, which can provide ongoing, constructive feedback (such as Netradyne's GreenZone) appeals to 72 percent of commercial drivers who say they are open to feedback at least once a week.
However, 20 percent of drivers feel that other drivers may rely on technology more than their own judgment.
Still, top commercial drivers use of technology includes hands-free phones (43 percent), a camera to view the outside of the vehicle (36 percent), a GPS device (29 percent), and other assistance that includes lane departure warnings, voice recognition, and automatic braking.
Over 50 percent of commercial drivers feel that smart tech has had a positive impact on driver safety. This is driven by a belief that smart technologies help them to stay focused when driving (23 percent) while 21 percent believe that it gives them the ability to make more accurate decisions.
In terms of priority, 69 percent of commercial drivers are particularly interested in AI technology that will help them monitor blind spots and 68 percent are interested in information on vehicle maintenance issues while 63 percent are looking for technology to feed them information about the road.
73 percent of commercial drivers are interested in receiving feedback once a week or more. They are more interested to hear what they do well than what they need to improve (40 percent).
Regarding feedback on their driving, 44 percent of commercial drivers prefer a mix of numbers-based feedback and verbal/written coaching, as opposed to simply a numbers-based feedback report (19 percent).
Guide to distracted driving
Trucking Truth has a comprehensive guide to distracted driving called, "Distracted Driving For Truck Drivers: The Penalties And Risks," which explores what truck drivers should know about distracted driving, including what the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration defines as distracted driving, the laws regarding dispatching services, and the penalties for driving while distracted.
In addition, the FMCSA website has a series of videos from drivers' cab cams illustrating the consequences of being distracted from something outside of the vehicle, driving while texting, and driving while hand holding a cell phone.
Driving while being distracted from outside the vehicle:
Here, the truck driver is in the right lane of a two-lane highway on wet pavement during the day. The driver becomes distracted with something out his right window. Traffic begins to slow ahead of him. The driver returns his attention to the forward roadway and has to brake quickly and move into the left lane.
Driving while texting:
The CMV driver is traveling on a two-lane highway during the day. The roadway curves to the left. The driver is distracted by his phone and fails to notice the car turning across his lane. He looks up from his phone at the last moment, and manages to avoid a head-on collision with the car by driving onto the shoulder.
Driving while using a handheld phone:
The CMV driver is traveling in the far right lane of a multi-lane highway during the day. The roadway curves to the left. The driver is distracted by his cell phone and his tire catches the road edge. He tries to correct with steering, but slides the truck and narrowly misses colliding with an oncoming car. His truck flips.
Using a dispatching device while driving:
According to the FMCSA, a 2009 study of real-world driving found that using a dispatching device while driving increased a driver’s chances of being involved in a safety-critical event by 9 times.
Reading, writing or using paper maps while driving:
The FMCSA notes that writing while driving increased a driver’s chance of being involved in a safety-critical event by 8 times. The study also found that reading a map while driving increased the chances of being in a safety-critical event by 7 times.
The agency says that while viewing a GPS while driving can be distracting, trying to enter a route into the GPS while driving can be a much greater risk of accidents. Newer units allow a driver to give instructions to the GPS using voice commands.
Eating and drinking while driving:
Even eating or drinking while driving can be a source of distraction, according to the FMCSA, which says that indications are that eating or drinking while driving can be more distracting than talking on the cell phone. Not only does the driver momentarily take his or her eyes off the road, but usually is driving one-handed.
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