A naturalistic truck driver study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute served to underscore what would seem to be a common-sense safety rule: Drivers should keep their hands on the wheel.
“We continue to find over and over again that visual menial tasks that take someone’s hands off the wheel and eyes off the roadway are going to be the highest risk,” VTTI researcher Susan Soccolich told a group of executives attending an Oct. 3 session hosted by American Trucking Associations’ Safety Management Council. “That could be reaching for their lunchbox, or it could be using a cellphone.”
The naturalistic study — which involves observing subjects in their driving environment — and two others attempted to answer questions related to the safety impact of distracted driving, drowsy driving, the use of cellphones, the age and experience of drivers, and the length of medical certification cards issued to drivers. Analyses of crash databases have indicated that driver distraction alone is a primary contributing factor in approximately 25%-30% of crashes.