Swerving, drifting out of lanes, driving erratically—what's going on with those vehicles around you? Are their drivers talking on cell phones and operating distracted? If you're traveling on a road from this particular list, that could be a good bet. Truck video systems and analytics provider Lytx named the top roads in the U.S. where it found drivers talked on cell phone handsets most and also identified the riskiest roads in five most populous states.
To do that, Lytx pooled its body of 2018 data from across its entire U.S.-based client base, which includes public and private fleets in trucking, waste, transit, government, construction, field services and other industries with more than 500,000 total vehicles and one million drivers. The company said it captured more than 1.35 million instances of cell phone use in all last year.
It's a very high-risk point in the data. On average, drivers who use handheld cell phones while driving are about 50% likelier to get into a collision in the next 90 days than drivers who do not, according to Lytx. The company tracks and scores such behaviors to assess risk more broadly and help inform and alert clients where and when those "hot zones" are—and extra caution could be wise.
"Commercial drivers face some of the toughest, most hazardous working conditions of any profession," said Lytx Chairman and CEO Brandon Nixon. "Their routes are constantly being disrupted by construction, weather and traffic, and they share the road with people who aren't professional drivers."
Across the United States, these 1/2 sq. mile road segments had the highest volume of observed handheld cell phone use behind the wheel:
Riskiest roads in densest states
As noted, Lytx tracked driving behaviors and calculated the top five riskiest 1/2 sq. mile stretches of road for last year in California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois based on its risk-scoring system. [Note that Illinois had been the fifth most populous state in the U.S. but has now been surpassed by Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.]
Illustrating how this information can be most useful, watch in the charts below the second column where Lytx calculated how each of these riskiest half-miles stacks up against the worst in the nation. States with more roads that place higher nationally for risk are the riskier ones overall by the numbers, since there are more truly high-risk traffic areas within them.
"As expected, the majority of concentrated risk fell in high-density areas including cities, ports and road stretches with interchanges or on/off ramps where there are a high volume of merging vehicles and overall activity," said Kyle Warlick, the intelligence analyst at Lytx who conducted this analysis.
So it's a combination of risk factors, not simply population, he noted. "We can see that driving on New York, Illinois and California roads is generally riskier than driving in Texas and Florida, despite those states' large populations," Warlick said.