Synthesis of Literature Relating to Cellular Telephone/Personal Digital Assistant Use in Commercial Truck and Bus Operations

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - north america, planning - safety/accidents


cell phone, CMV, commercial motor vehicle, crash avoidance, distraction, driver distraction, heavy vehicle, motorcoach, PDA, personal digital assistant, smart phone, survey, truck


There is an increasing awareness of the role of driver distraction in commercial motor vehicle crashes. This study presents the results of efforts to expand current knowledge of truck and motorcoach industry practices regarding commercial driver distraction. The project involved a thorough literature review on driver distraction. Little research specifically addressed commercial driver distraction; those studies that did examine commercial driving typically found significant degradations in driver performance due to visually demanding device use. However, the findings of automotive driver distraction research vary based on the type of examination (i.e., simulator, test-track, or naturalistic data collection methods) and the aspect of phone use. These findings, in light of the importance and potential safety risks posed by driver distraction, may help guide further research into the nature and magnitude of distraction faced by CMV drivers as part of their normal job functions.


Permission to link to this report has been given by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.


The Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative was Albert Alvarez of the FMCSA Research Division. J.F. Morgan, T.E. Trimble, D.S. Bowman, & S. Baker are with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. R. Pickett and D. Murray are with the American Transportation Research Institute. G. Bergoffen is with MaineWay Services