Most drivers believe they are sufficiently aware of the risks posed by alcohol, drugs, speeding and not using protection systems when driving, but they are not so aware of dangerous situations arising from distractions when at the wheel.
Distractions cause more than 30% of all traffic accidents and therefore, when when we get behind the wheel of a vehicle, it is essential for 100% of our attention to be focused on the road.
Driving demands complete concentration on three different levels:
- visual: view of the road,
- manual: hands on the wheel and
- cognitive: mind focused on driving.
The most common distractions are caused by:
- Passengers in the vehicle. Often, without wishing to, passengers distract drivers. If the passengers are children, distractions are much more common; three out of every four drivers traveling with children check what is happening on the back seat by turning round or looking in the rear view mirror.
- Adjusting the vehicle's devices. It is important to keep both hands on the wheel at all times. The devices that cause most distractions are the GPS route finder, the iPod or the radio, although you should also remember that smoking or looking for something in the glove compartment can be distracting.
- Speaking or sending text messages using a cell phone. The cell phone is another technological device whose use while driving considerably increases the risk of having an accident. It is compulsory to have a hands-free system to make or receive phone calls, but even so it substantially reduces the ability to concentrate. Sending text messages by phone increases the possibility of an accident by a factor of 23 as it implies three different types of distraction; visual (while your eyes are reading the screen); cognitive (your mind is occupied with formulating the message) and manual (your fingers are typing on the letters or buttons). Forget your cell phone while driving.
- Personal thoughts and concerns are a frequent source of distraction. When driving you need to set aside haste, stress and personal worries.
- Taking your eyes off the road. Most drivers know how easy it is to get distracted and take your eyes off the road. It is not uncommon to pass an accident, stop paying attention to the traffic and thus cause another accident. Never take your eyes off the traffic and the road.
- Eating or drinking. We have already pointed out the importance of keeping both hands on the wheel and eating or drinking means that one hand is occupied, thereby increasing the risk of an accident.
Avoid distractions and concentrate on driving. We want you to get home safe and sound. Join GOAL ZERO.