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Driven to Distraction
Over on this side of the Atlantic, you may have missed it, but this week, ‘the greatest show on earth’ went out to 111 million Americans. As always, it seemed the event was as much about the commercial break, as it was about the Green Bay Packers’ 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Indeed, it was here, amongst the six million dollar-a-minute commercials that we found a good example of a trend in the way driving technology seems to be going.
The American car manufacturer, Chevrolet, used their precious seconds to advertise a new bit of technology on their ‘Cruze’ model that allows the driver to listen to their Facebook updates whilst at the wheel, Chrysler Advert. It got us to thinking about ‘driving distractions’ and whether it’s ever really safe to be doing anything else when sat behind the wheel.
Research under taken by Heriot-Watt university academics reveals that although the main cause of accidents at the wheel, through distraction, is having unruly children in the back seat, it was closely followed by mobile phones with snacking placing third. Alarmingly, 52% of motorists asked had used a phone while driving, 40% had typed out a text.
The Transport Research Laboratory suggests texting to be riskier than driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is something RED urges our learner drivers and all road users to be pay close attention to – given that it is new drivers who are the most likely to reach for their phone. The research suggested that reaction times whilst texting diminished by 35%, compared with 12% when under the influence of alcohol and 35% in those that had taken cannabis.
With mobile phone technology becoming more and more sophisticated, surely the problem looks set to increase in the near future? Perhaps Chrysler have the answer to the problem with their ‘audio-facebook’ feature but is this still ultimately a distraction and a step down the wrong path? Is there ever a good excuse to take your attention off the road, even for Facebook?
RED Driving School urges all drivers to pay full attention to the road ahead and their surrounding environment, to ensure all road users and passengers are as safe as possible. Any other activity that demands attention should ultimately be avoided, whether it be a mobile phone, a sandwich-on-the-go or a new piece of technology. Better safe than sorry.