Distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019, and now after a thorough investigation, the risky behavior has been deemed the cause of a deadly 2019 crash between an SUV and a medium-sized bus in Belton, S.C., according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The driver of the SUV was distracted by engaging in several activities — specifically, talking, placing, and receiving calls on her cell phone while operating the vehicle, according to NTSB’s investigation. This distracted behavior led the driver to cross into the opposing lane and strike a bus occupied by a driver and seven passengers.
The collision resulted in the death of one passenger as well as the bus driver who was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected.
Witnesses attested to erratic driving on the part of the SUV driver, including accelerating to approximately 75 MPH in a 45 MPH zone shortly before the crash. Moreover, the NTSB investigation found that the driver engaged in a 16-minute phone call with a friend that ended 1 minute before the collision.
This latest investigation highlights what safety experts already know: Distracted driving remains a major roadway hazard.
Fleet operators need to continually remind drivers to stay focused on the road at all times. While cellphone distraction ranks among the top problems, drivers should also be reminded to never eat behind the wheel, fiddle with the radio, or even program the navigation system while the vehicle is in motion.
As of August, 24 states and the District of Columbia prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving, and 48 states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging for all drivers.