Driver distraction can be deadly

30th October 2012

There are many distractions for the modern motorist and devices which are designed to make life easier, such as sat navs and mobile phones, can cause drivers to take their attention away from the road.

While the end result is usually no more than a missed turn; distraction can end in a crash which could have serious consequences.

Research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2006 revealed that distracted drivers are a risk on the road.

The statistics showed that motorists who drive while performing another task are two to three times more likely to crash compared to those who are solely focussed on driving.

There is also research to suggest that motorists are deluded about their ability to drive while distracted.

Research by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, 2007 found that drivers are incapable of assessing the level of distraction they are suffering by doing more than one thing at the wheel.

The truth is the vast majority of drivers are affected by distraction. A study by the University of Utah entitled Supertaskers: Profiles in extraordinary multitasking ability, found that 97.5 per cent of motorists were unable to split their attention behind the wheel without it significantly affecting their ability to drive.

According to Brake, the road safety charity, some 48 per cent of drivers in the UK have admitted to braking suddenly or swerving as a result of being distracted behind the wheel.

Passengers were the most common source of distraction cited by 14 per cent, followed by mobile phones (ten per cent) and sat nav systems, which were quoted by eight per cent of respondents.

Changing music and eating and drinking were also cited by respondents as distractions to driving.

When questioned by Brake, some 42 per cent of passengers admitted to losing concentration over the past 12 months as a result of their passengers.

It seems that advertising campaigns would only go some way to improving driver behaviour, as only 30 per cent said this would make a difference, while the overwhelming majority – 62 per cent – said traffic policing would force them to be more careful drivers.

Sat nav systems seem to have become ubiquitous in cars around the country, but it seems they could be causing drivers to focus on the map in front of them, rather than the road ahead.

In a study by University College London, volunteers who were asked to look for a flash of light were less able to see it when they had first been shown an image containing different coloured squares.

The lead researcher of the study, which was published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, suggested that part of their brain was distracted by attempted to remember the image of the squares.

"An example of where this is relevant in the real world is when people are following directions on a sat nav whilst driving

"Our research would suggest that focusing on remembering the directions we’ve just seen on the screen means that we’re more likely to fail to observe other hazards around us on the road, for example an approaching motorbike or a pedestrian on a crossing, even though we may be ‘looking’ at where we’re going", he said.

So it would seem that taking care of what is happening inside a car is as important as checking that it is safe on the outside, has no rust, good working headlights and properly inflated tyres.

Choose ATS Euromaster to ensure you are safe behind the wheel.

Posted by