Study links strict cell phone use to safety

| November 17, 2010

Motor carriers with the highest safety performance records also are likely to have stringent cell phone use policies, according to the latest Strength in Numbers Fleet Benchmarking Study, sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.

The study of company vehicle fleet crash rates found that leading performers were more likely to have a total ban on mobile phone use, and six of the eight leading companies were also more likely to terminate a driver for violating the company’s mobile device policy. In addition, eight out of nine of the top ranking fleets regularly review drivers’ mobile phone records after a crash to determine if the driver was using a phone at the time of the incident.

By comparison, all 13 companies that fell in the bottom of the rankings had some degree of a mobile device policy, but none had the option to terminate a driver for violating the policy.

The yearlong benchmarking study examined fleets from 45 companies in the pharmaceutical, oil and gas, food and beverage, telecommunications, transportation, package delivery and insurance industries. The companies, including 27 in the Fortune 500, operate a combined fleet of just over 400,000 vehicles that logged more than 8 billion miles in 2009. The study participants’ crash rate per million miles  ranged from less than one to nearly 12.

“This is the first evidence we’ve seen that shows the combination of a strong mobile device policy and strict consequences can result in lower crash rates,” said Bill Windsor, NETS Board Chairman. “The benchmark study shows the potential for well-written state laws combined with strong enforcement to eventually reduce crash rates in the general population.”

For more information on the Strength in Numbers program or to become a participant, visit the NETS website at www.trafficsafety.org.

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