There was a big conference in Washington, D.C. this week that addressed cell phone use and texting and how these practice impaired a driver’s ability to focus on the safe operation of his or her vehicle.
The two-day summit brought together safety experts, researchers, industry representatives, elected officials and members of the public to share their expertise, experiences and ideas for reducing distracted driving behavior and addressing the safety risk posed by the growing problem across all modes of transportation.
Department of Transportation Secretary LaHood announced new research findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that show nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, and more than half a million were injured. On any given day in 2008, more than 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone. To further study how cell phone distraction affects commercial truck and motor coach drivers, Secretary LaHood also announced a new study the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is undertaking this month through June 2010. The study will help FMCSA better understand the prevalence of cell phone distraction in conjunction with crashes and near-crashes.
The American Association for Justice has issued a report called "Warning! Safety Violation Ahead." The report reveals that "a new analysis of government data reveals that more than 28,000 motor carrier companies, representing more than 200,000 trucks, are currently operating in violation of federal safety laws." The safety violations include "defective brakes, bad tires, loads that dangerously exceeded weight limits and drivers with little or no training or drug and alcohol dependencies." The accompanying press release indicates that
AAJ obtained data on the safety performance of U.S. trucking companies through the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), which is maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Over a million lines of data were analyzed in an effort to pinpoint just how many unsafe trucks might be on the road.
Tennessee had 107 fatalies involving large trucks in 2007. The country as a whole had 4808 fatalities and 142,949 non-fatal crashes involving large trucks. You can access the national database by clicking here. You can reach the Tennessee database by clicking here. Trucking companies are listed by city.
Texting while driving is now illegal in Tennessee, and a study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reaffirms why the law is necessary.
For truck drivers, the risk of a crash or near-crash event increases by a 23.2 times as compared with non-distracted driving.
Read the entire study here.