July 2012 - Distracted Driving

Safety Alert Type: 
Booming and Towing
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
BC Forest Safety Council
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

As the supervisor for the other three log trucks in the company, Tim had a lot on his plate. In addition to hauling logs, he had to make sure the other trucks were maintained and in good shape. It was hard to keep drivers if their rigs were constantly breaking down. It seemed like his cell phone was constantly ringing with a report of a breakdown or a question from the rookie about the paperwork that needed to be done. Tim knew that he couldn’t safely drive his truck and talk on his phone at the same time so he spent at least an hour each day pulled over and answering his messages. It was getting difficult to make his three trips!

His wife bought him a smart phone for his birthday and Tim was thinking that texting might be the answer to his problem. His drivers all knew how to text and it might be a more efficient way to communicate.

It didn’t take long for Tim to realize that texting was more efficient but also more distracting. He put his phone away in the glove box and decided he needed to talk to the owner about helping out with some of his workload.

In 2009, a study was done by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute which focused on the effects of distracted driving on truck drivers. The Institute was able to track where drivers were looking when they were driving safely and just before they were involved in a crash or near crash. The results of this study are:

  1. A driver dialing a cell phone while driving is 5.9 times more likely to get into a crash
  2. A driver reaching for a cell phone is 6.7 times more likely to get into a crash
  3. A driver texting is 23.2 times more likely to get into a crash
  4. For every 6 seconds of drive time, a driver sending or receiving a text message spends 4.6 of those seconds with their eyes off the road.


Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Minimize distractions in the cab of your truck. Phones, stereos, and pets can distract you from driving.
  • Develop some rules for your company about not using cell phones while driving. Discuss those rules and the risks of distracted driving at your next safety meeting.
  • It usually takes two to cause driver distraction. Don’t call or text someone that you know is driving.
  • Set up your voicemail to say that you will not be answering the phone if you are driving. This sends a strong message that you are a professional and your priority is driving safely.
  • Keep radio conversations short and to the point. Use the radio to call kilometers and discuss other important items related to road safety.
  • If you do have to switch radio channels while driving, announce your intentions and then pull over until you can switch back over onto the road channel.
  • If your job requires you to respond to phone messages or texts, plan the time to do this into your day.


For more information on this submitted alert: 

Additional Resources

  1. Link to more information on the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study: http://www.vtti.vt.edu/PDFs/7-22-09-VTTI-Press_Release_Cell_phones_and_Driver_Distraction.pdf
  2. Here’s a link to information from ICBC on distracted driving. http://www.icbc.com/road-safety/safer-drivers/distractions
  3. An entertaining and effective video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbjSWDwJILs
  4. Check out this safety alert. http://www.bcforestsafe.org/node/1862


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