“Distracted drivers are dangerous drivers.” Those are the words of the most up to date driver awareness advertising campaign beaming its way into our living rooms. As factually correct as this statement may be, it can be argued that statements like this, along with shocking images of crashes etc, may not be enough to equip drivers with the tools they need to avoid in-car distraction. This week I explore the subject of driver distraction with an aim towards deepening the understanding of the subject as oppose to simply warning against drivers becoming distracted.
There are few who will dispute that along with alcohol, speeding and driver fatigue, driver distraction is amongst the most prominent causes of road accidents and road fatalities. Hundreds die every year as a result of split second distractions which unfortunately demand the ultimate price. It would appear that the core component of the problem is the importance of split seconds decisions and as the television adverts show us, missing a split second change in road circumstances can prove fatal.
Biggest distractions (in no particular order)
Whilst it is admirable to completely avoid all distractions, it is important to note that not all distractions are equal. On reading a number of articles on the matter I found that there are such a things as low intensity (coffee drinking and changing the radio station) and high intensity (writing text messages and reaching around to the back seat) distractions. One article even goes on to point out that some drivers have the capacity to coordinate low intensity distractions around extended traffic stoppages and other normally occuring stoppages. On continued reading it would seem that we really have to realistically evaluate our own capacity to do any given activity whilst in control of a vehicle. While outlawing high distraction activities may send the right message, common sense needs to be the first reference point as it may prove difficult to pass legislation banning children from arguing in a moving vehicle.
Like with most areas of life, planning will come in very handy in mitigating the risks. The planning for inevitable distractions is no different to any other form of planning and takes emotional effort and time. Some simple suggestions would be:
Whilst the above list is by no means comprehensive, it serves as a reminder of how much planning and forethought should be undertaken in order to deal with the wide array of demands on one’s attention as we can all appreciate; in a crisis we are only as good as our back up plan.
*Sources available on request