Posted on 29-09-2014
Filed Under (Industry News) by Chloe Davies

Distraction

From turn of key to switch off, while you are behind the wheel, do nothing but drive.

A recent study by survey company Ipsos indicates that 40 percent of South Africa’s drivers text while driving. But, as Motor Industry Workshop Association chairman Les McMaster pointed out: “Texting is the most dangerous thing you can do while driving, but distracted driving means any activity that takes your attention away from main task of driving.

There are three types of distractions, he says: visual, which is when the driver takes their eyes off the road, manual – a task that requires the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel – and cognitive, when the driver’s mind is not focussed on the task at hand.

That includes eating and drinking, grooming, adjusting the radio or talking to passengers, to name just a few.

“Texting is a visual, manual and cognitive distraction – which means no attention at all is being paid to the road.”

According to the National Roads and Motorists Association, drivers who regularly send text messages spend up to four times more time with their eyes on their phone than on the road.

“When you’re driving, you have to think about a lot of things,” McMaster said. “Your speed, the traffic laws, where you’re going, road conditions, pedestrians, other cars around you. It’s a long list, and if you’re not focussed on the job at hand, there’s a much greater risk you’ll be involved in a collision.”

The problem is that, for many of us, our car has become our mobile office, so changing these habits can be difficult. A recent Carte Blanche story on cell phones and driving elicited a strong response from the public, showing that on-going education is vital in combating distracted driving.

5FM DJ Rob Forbes and Carte Blanche responded by creating message alerts and ring tones reminding drivers not to use their phones while driving. These alerts can be downloaded from the Carte Blanche website.

“Passengers can help drivers remain focussed,” suggested McMaster, “by reminding them when their attention is not on the road and assisting them with anything they may need.”

He also offered these tips for safer driving:

Don’t read, eat, change your clothes or groom yourself while driving.

Don’t allow passengers to distract you. Ensure small children are buckled up before moving off and, if they need attention during the trip – pull over.

Don’t let pets run around the vehicle; rather put them in a pet carrier, and tie the carrier down on the back seat with a seatbelt – the last thing you want if you crash is Cuddles, in his box, hitting you in the back of the head at 60km/h.

Create a playlist of your favourite music so you don’t have to look for songs.

Let your friends and family know you won’t answer any phone calls or texts while you’re driving.

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