Friday, December 22, 2017

The Top 5 Reasons Leading to Dangerous Distracted Driving

For most of us, our everyday life includes driving—so much so, that it becomes almost mundane. In fact, many who commute to and from work every day will admit that there are times they arrive at work or home with virtually no memory of the actual drive. Driving on congested roadways is an inherently dangerous task, and those dangers are not only on the outside, from the other drivers, but also exist in the interior of the vehicle. Distracted driving has quickly moved up the list as a factor in auto accidents, and, some believe is the number one cause of collisions.

Conservative estimates are that at least one-fourth of all car collisions are the result of distractions, although this number is likely much higher—after all, how many people involved in an accident want to admit their distraction caused a serious accident? Distractions inside the vehicle significantly impact the ability of the driver to keep his or her attention and focus on the road, and drive safely—so much so, that AAA studied the situation, looking at a number of potentially hazardous distractions which divert the attention of drivers.

In this particular study, participants were asked to perform tasks while not driving, while driving in a simulator, and while driving a car in a real-world situation.  Brake reaction times, following distances, brainwave activities and eye and head movements were used to measure the levels of distraction for the drivers. The drivers were first asked to listen to the radio, however the volume and station had to be set prior to the driver actually driving. The study found that listening to the radio—if you are not fiddling with dials—is not a significant distraction, although listening to an audiobook was found to be more distracting than listening to music only.

Top Five Causes of Dangerous Distracted Driving
Driver distraction increased when the test participants talked to passengers in the vehicle. Even though the drivers were not allowed to turn their heads to look at the passenger they were listening to and speaking to, the distraction levels were about halfway between “not that distracting,” and “severely distracting.” The top five distractions for drivers turned out to be:

1.      Talking on a cell phone is moderately distracting for drivers, whether the cell phone is hand-held, or hands-free. Although the use of handheld cellphones has been banned in many states, a significant number of studies have found that hands-free cellphone conversations do not significantly lessen the distractions. Hand-free does not prevent cognitive distraction, and, according to some, cognitive distraction is the most dangerous (visual and manual distraction are the other two types of distractions). Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA, stated that “Increased mental workload and cognitive distractions can lead to a type of tunnel vision or inattention blindness where motorists don’t see potential hazards right in front of them.” Texting is even more dangerous than talking on your cell phone, as it combines all three types of distractions—cognitive, manual and visual. Texting is a particular problem for teens, who already have extremely high crash rates due to inexperience.
2.      Another primary cause of distracted driving is being “lost in thought.” Far too many of us drive while thinking about what we will cook for dinner, what happened at work, what the children are doing—in other words, our minds are on everything except the task at hand, which is driving. Some research concludes that being lost in thought is probably the number one cause of distracted driving accidents, even ahead of cell phone use, but in truth, being lost in thought, probably accompanies other distractions much of the time. If your mind often wanders while you are driving, make a concerted effort to concentrate on your driving and the other drivers around you.
3.      Outside persons, objects or events account for at least 7 percent of all distracted driving crashes. Sometimes known as the “looky-loo” syndrome, many of us will gawk at accidents or people in other cars instead of focusing on the road in front of us and drivers around us. Many drivers are also guilty of reading advertisement signs instead of paying attention to their driving.
4.      Having another person in your vehicle accounts for at least 5 percent of all distracted driving accidents, particularly if those “people” are children. In an Australian study, researchers found that having children in the vehicle is a staggering 12 times more distracting to the driver than talking on a cell phone. Further, the average parent takes his or her eyes off the road for three minutes and 22 seconds during a short, 16-minute trip. Parents find themselves breaking up fights between squabbling siblings, calming a fussy baby, picking up dropped toys, bottles and juice cups, and watching the children in the rear-view mirror for long periods of time.
5.      Eating and drinking is considered to be the fifth most dangerous reason for distracted driving accidents. Many of us use our vehicle as a restaurant, as we are constantly on the go, and do not want to take the time to stop and eat. We drink our coffee on the way to work, and eat our lunch with one hand as we fly down the freeway at 70 mph.


Other typical causes of distracted driving include adjusting audio or climate controls, using devices and controls to operate the vehicle, moving objects in the vehicle (insects and pets, primarily), and smoking, are all causes of dangerous distracted driving accidents. To avoid a serious accident, it is imperative that you focus on your driving only when you are behind the wheel. 



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3 comments

tannawings said...

I have heard and seen studies where talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as a drunk driver. It is amazing how many do it even in states where it is illegal. Texting wasnt mentioned, but that another huge one and so many text now rather than talk.

ellen beck

Janet W. said...

It's ridiculous how many times I see distracted drivers on their cell phones either talking or texting. I can usually tell with how someone is driving when I'm behind them if they're on the phone.

slehan said...

I turn my phone off when I get in my car.
slehan at juno dot com

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