Study shows drivers are easily distracted

31st December 2012

A recent study has found that on average, drivers take their eyes off the road every nine seconds.

Sat-navs, clouds, adverts and mobile phones are all reasons for driving distractions, the study by insurer Direct Line has found.

By closely examining drivers’ eye movements, the study has revealed that drivers spend 18 per cent of their time not watching the road.

If the driver is using a satellite navigation device, this increases to 22 per cent driver distraction. Drivers look at the device for a shocking 12 per cent of their journey time. This figure is about six times higher than the time spent looking at oncoming traffic.

Participants wore glasses that monitor the exact focus of the eye and tiny movements in the cornea were recorded. The experiment was recorded on film, and researchers were then able to find out what drivers focus on when behind the wheel.

Spokesperson for Direct Line Simon Henrick, said: "For the first time we know exactly where people focus their eyes when driving and the results are frightening. Even when drivers appear to be watching the road, by tracking movements in the cornea we now know they are often watching clouds or shop window displays."

Results also discovered that on average, drivers only look at their mirrors for 3.2 percent of their total journey time. Perhaps startlingly, this is the same amount of time that drivers looked at pedestrians on the street.

Drivers in the study were also prone to cloud-gazing and scenery-scanning, making up a total of seven per cent of their drive time. For 0.8 per cent of a journey, drivers were caught looking at advertisements.

The figure for looking at advertisements is also higher than the time the participants studied road signs, clocking in at 0.6 per cent.

Danger behaviour recorded in the study also included fiddling with sat-nav devices or looking down at a mobile phone.

In a similar study from moneysupermarket.com, it was found that three quarters of motorists get distracted behind the wheel. Reasons for this include; eating, drinking, changing music, sending texts, passengers, children, or even spotting attractive people. Tweeting and updating a Facebook status was also a distraction for six per cent.

“It is clear that using a handset whilst driving, whether that be for keeping up with social networking, getting directions or texting and talking to friends, family or work colleagues, is a big distraction for drivers and one that can have dire consequences,” said Mr Pratt, insurance expert at moneysupermarket.com.

“It only takes a second of lost concentration to cause an accident so drivers really should abide by the law and not use their phone whilst driving – for their own good as well as pedestrians and other road.”

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