Does US DOT Study On Commercial Driver Distraction Mean Rate Hikes?

By Mike Anderson Posted in Car Insurance News

DOT Releases Report On Commercial Driver Distractions

The US Department of Transportation released a report entitled “Driver Distraction In Commercial Vehicle Operations” in September of 2009. The report documents the results of studies conducted to determine the increased safety risk posed by distracted commercial drivers.   In particular two studies’ results were combined to include a total of 203 commercial drivers operating 55 trucks in various locations throughout the US.

Strong Link Between Traffic Crashes And Driver Distraction Evident

From the data it was observed that an astonishing 71 percent of traffic crashes involved a driver being involved in a non-driving task at the time of the accident. Further, commercial drivers involved in near-crashes were reported being involved in non-driving distraction 46 percent of the time. Sixty  percent of the time drivers involved in what the DOT refers to as safety critical events found themselves distracted from the road. Clear conclusions can be drawn from this data. Increased commercial driver distraction due to non-driving tasks can play a major role in traffic collisions and lead to risky driving behavior.

In this report the Department of Transportation also conducted an “eye glance analysis.” This analysis observed location of driver’s eyes while operating commercial vehicles. A prominent correlation was drawn between commercial driver’s eyes not being focused on the road for extended periods of time and increased risky driving behavior. The DOT recommends that reducing roadway distractions that avert driver’s eyes will increase driver attentiveness thus leading to safer roadways.

Risky Driving Behavior Could Lead To Insurance Premium Hikes

Auto insurance companies calculate rates and premiums based on risk. Therefore, an increased risk of being involved in a traffic collision often times will lead to higher insurance costs. However, the results of this study do not necessarily mean an increase in insurance rates across the board. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) latest data, the number of car collision fatalities involving large commercial trucks has decreased by 7.5 percent from 1998 to 2007.

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