While the percentage of drivers using handheld devices has decreased in recent years, many experts feel the use of distracting devices is significantly undercounted.
Fact is, drivers frequently lose focus of the road. Their eyes drift and their minds wander as they connect on cell phones or other technologies built into vehicle dashboards.
Studies indicate drivers can be distracted long after programming a GPS device or sending a text via a voice command system. Long enough to miss a stop sign or pedestrian? You bet. At 25 mph, you can travel the length of more than one football field in 10 seconds.
So, let’s now talk about “inattention blindness,” defined as the failure to notice a visible hazard because your attention is focused elsewhere. This phenomenon occurs regularly when drivers are cognitively distracted.
Research shows just listening to a cell phone conversation decreases brain activity associated with driving by more than one-third, leading to safety performance issues, such as the inability to react quickly in congested driving zones.
Think of it as driving blindfolded. Who drives like that?
Of course, using electronics is not the only way drivers can be distracted. Talking or texting on the phone, eating or drinking, applying makeup or shaving, reading a newspaper or book, watching a video, or programming a GPS are all examples of the following distraction categories: visual, manual (taking a hand off the wheel) or cognitive (taking your mind off driving).
All can raise safety risks, not only for drivers but also for those sharing the road around them. Hands-free devices may be marginally safer than handheld ones, but the safest choice of all is not using your cell phone or other technology while you are driving.
Your brain toggles quickly between these two tasks. When driving, this can slow reaction time and cause crashes. Be safe by silencing your phone, programming your GPS and setting up your radio or music while you still are parked.
Your life is much more valuable than any phone call, text or playlist.