New Study: 52% Of U.S. Crashes Are Due To Phone Distraction

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The Highlight Reel's Comment
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In what might come as no surprise to anyone, distracted driving was a factor in over half of driving trips that resulted in a crash, according to one recent study by Cambridge Mobile Telematics. The study collected data from several hundred thousand drivers and measured behavior in six different categories:

"Phone use while driving, excessive speeding, braking, acceleration, cornering, and time of driving."

Key findings in the report included:

  • Distracted driving happened in 52% of trips that resulted in a crash.
  • Average duration of distraction was 135 seconds on trips that involved a crash.
  • 29% of these crashes were at speeds over 56 miles per hour.
  • 20% of drives with distraction had a distraction lasting two minutes or more.
  • Cell phone use was involved in 14% of fatal crashes in 2015.

According to the National Safety Council, overall highway fatalities have increased 14% in the last 2 years, the largest such increase in the last half-century.

Studies have also shown that states with anti-phone laws have only slightly lower rates of distracted driving.

The FMCSA has specific rules to address distracted driving by commercial drivers, and can be summed up as such:

  • NO Reaching

  • NO Holding

  • NO Dialing

  • NO Texting

  • NO Reading

So as a truck driver, unless your are in an emergency or contacting law enforcement, any texting or dialing device needs to be "hands-free", and the FMCSA has this to say about company Qualcomm devices:

"texting on a dispatching device is indistinguishable from texting on another text-capable device, and is therefore prohibited."

Depending on the state laws regarding seriousness of any infractions, the penalties could lead to eventual disqualification for CDL holders.

Some easy tips to avoid distracted driving include the obvious:

  • Don't get distracted by objects outside of your truck.
  • Don't text and drive.
  • Do not dial a handheld phone.
  • Avoid using dispatching devices.
  • Avoid eating and drinking.
  • Avoid reading, writing, or looking at paper maps while driving.

About Cambridge Mobile Telematics:

"Founded in 2010 by two MIT professors and experienced entrepreneurs, CMT pioneered telematics for behavior-based insurance (BBI) and deployed the first solution to provide both traditional vehicle-centric UBI and BBI. With over 20 customers in 14 countries, CMT has a proven record of changing driver behavior: an average reduction of 35% in phone distraction, 20% in hard braking, and 20% in at-risk speeding all within less than 30 days of using the program. With DriveWell, insurers report fast customer growth (e.g., 2x growth rate compared to earlier), lower loss ratios (e.g., 34% lower crash rates, 19% less-severe claims, and 10% lower loss ratio compared to blackboxes), and greater customer retention rates."

Telematics: the branch of information technology that deals with the long-distance transmission of computerized information.

More From

Wiki - Cell Phone Use, Texting, & Driver Distractions

Blog - Distracted Driving For Truck Drivers: The Penalties And Risks

CDL Driver Disqualification

External Links:

New data from Cambridge Mobile Telematics shows distracted driving dangers

FMCSA - Distracted Driving

FMCSA: Limiting the Use of Wireless Communication Devices


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.


Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
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