How to avoid driver distraction this Christmas

By December 4, 2019 News

As we officially head into another holiday period, driver distraction is always something that should remain front of mind for you and your employees.

Realising you’re probably not as good of a driver as you think can be humbling, but it’s something we should especially consider heading into the most deadly period on Australian roads.

A recent webinar by the team at eDriving looked at the hidden dangers and distractions that happen each and every time we hit the road. Perhaps more alarming than the cold data, is the ways that our brains try and deny the warning signs and ultimately put our safety at risk on a regular basis.

We all hear the safety messages and alerts, yet so many of us ignore them every day. Is this phenomenon brought about by ego, stubbornness or something else entirely?

What follows are the 7 key stages of distraction denial:

Stage 1: I Am A Better Driver Than Most

Most drivers think they are a safer driver than their family and friends around them. 94% of all crashes, are directly related to human error, while 80% is due to drive inattention.

We continually fool ourselves, by thinking that car crashes can’t happen to us. But they can and do. Just because you haven’t had a car accident in the last 10 years, doesn’t mean you won’t have one tomorrow.

Stage 2: I Am Really Good At Multitasking

Despite popular belief our brains don’t multitask well, they task switch.

Every time that we switch tasks, there is a small mental cost that buildup over time. By constantly changing tasks our ability to focus diminishes which increases our likelihood of having a crash.

Stage 3: It’s okay to text at stoplights

Typing into a phone is texting. Reading a phone is texting. An Australian study earlier this year found that 62% of drivers admit to using their phone while driving. But surely it wouldn’t make any difference if we are stopped right? Wrong.

In a simulated test, 14 out of 15 drivers texting at a stoplight failed to notice an SUV coming at them head-on as they drove into the intersection. All attentive drivers did.

Stage 4: Hands-free calls are okay and no worse than talking to a passenger

Your brain has to work harder to process conversations through a phone than it does by talking to someone in real life. The chance of crashing goes up 4 times if you are using a phone, regardless of whether you are using it handsfree or not.

This is around the same risk that drunk drivers have while driving. And yet the majority of us don’t use a car when we are drunk. So why do we risk our lives with mobile phones?

Stage 5: My car’s technology makes me safe

Built-in entertainment, communication and navigation systems are not evaluated or regulated for drivers. Using these systems can dramatically increase the mental workload of a driver, leading to a potential crash.

While people think built-in solutions must be safe, it seems the opposite is true. Studies show that when provided with a built-in system, drivers are far more likely to use them regularly than a standard mobile phone because they perceive them as safe.

Stage 6: I can’t afford to lose productivity in the car so I’ll take the risk

If you are using your brain to drive, you don’t have a lot of your brain left to make rational business decisions. When you are speaking to co-workers and clients while driving the chances of you being focused and attentive aren’t very high.

Businesses that have introduced communication bans with their drivers have seen improved productivity and performance within their staff.

Stage 7: Accepting the facts

By focusing on the road and following these tips the only thing you might lose is your ego. As mentioned previously 94% of crashes are caused by driver behaviour and attitude, while 80% are due to inattention.

The data doesn’t lie, so why are so many people still taking the risk of using their phone while driving every day?

It’s time to stop.

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