Dangers of Distracted Driving

Driving a vehicle requires the greatest concentration; however, too many drivers are distracted from their main activity, driving, by secondary activities.

There are many sources of distraction when a driver is driving his vehicle: eat or drink, smoke, wear makeup, remove his jacket or sweater … But today, society asks us to manage our time best, become a scarce resource. For most of us this means, among other things, being always reachable.

Being able to stay in permanent contact with one’s private or professional surroundings has become an absolute necessity. We often use the car as an extension of our living room or our office. Manufacturers, to meet or anticipate demand, are perfecting their systems. The temptation is therefore great to be distracted at the wheel by other activities. The recent worldwide rise in the use of mobile phones while driving poses more and more security problems.

A recent survey indicates that 2 out of 3 employees call during their business trips and only 20% do so only when stationary. Users underestimate very much the risk they are taking and are hurting others by using their phone while driving. Many believe that the danger lies in the physical manipulation of the phone – the fact of holding it in hand – and consider that the solution is to use a device built into the vehicle or helmet …

THREAT: THE DROP OF ATTENTION

Holding an object in hand will necessarily complicate the task of the driver to maneuver his steering wheel if he must avoid an obstacle that arises. He will do the necessary less well (if it happens) and with a delay. The problem is not limited to the action of the hand or its position on the steering wheel, but the danger comes mainly from the mental load that a remote conversation makes to the brain. The threat comes from lack of attention. When we are on the phone, 80% of the capacities of our brain are mobilized, the remote conversation induces automatic mechanisms of thought which make that our spirit projects itself, imagines the interlocutor, the place where it is, “sees his face” . In fact, we are elsewhere, and just capable of performing routine driving tasks, as if we were on autopilot. The results of a study show that people who phone while driving record 30% less information (no difference in test performance could be highlighted between the use of bluetooth, headset phone speaker or phone held against the ear).

TALKING, WRITING, TAKING PHOTOS: WELL, TOO RISKY!

The latest generation phones, like smartphones, are minicomputers that allow multiple uses:

Talk, the basic function of any phone. Write text messages and emails (26% of drivers do so, 51% among 25-34 year olds), use applications (programs, software, internet and social networks) or even set up a GPS (36% do it while driving) . Writing a text message makes a person not keep their eyes on the road for 5 seconds, if you drive at 90 km / h, the risk of accident is then multiplied by 23. For comparison if you drive with a rate of blood alcohol level of 0.8 g / l, this increases the risk by 10. Selfies are becoming a popular practice for young people, even at the wheel! According to a survey of Europeans aged 18 to 24, 1 out of 4 admits having taken a picture while driving (28% for the French) and 43% of French young people admit to taking pictures while driving.

DRAMATIC CONSEQUENCES

Driving requires a permanent concentration to process and interpret a lot of information. A second carelessness can have dramatic consequences, especially when a traffic event occurs that the driver is supposed to detect, analyze and interpret, before reacting appropriately, all very quickly. Still, his attention must be fully available and not mobilized elsewhere. The “lack of attention” is at the origin of many accidents. The reaction time, which is one second if all goes well, is increased by several seconds (2 to 4 times more). The consequence is an extension of the stopping distance. At 50 km / h, with a reaction time of 1 second, we put 28 meters to stop in optimal conditions. With 2 seconds it will be 42 meters.
Other tasks are disrupted. For example, the time spent on the overtaking lane is significantly more important, due to a lower average speed and less frequent maneuvers.

REFLEXES TO ADOPT

“The omnipresence of mobile phones in everyday life is accompanied by a lack of self-regulation on the part of their users, even in situations where this risks are endangering them” analyzes Bernadette Moreau, General Delegate of the Vinci Autoroutes Foundation. Faced with this widespread practice, some simple reflexes deserve to be adopted by drivers:

Anticipate, better organize, stop: talk on the phone before taking the road, during breaks or pass the communication or the steering wheel to a third party when possible; inform your interlocutors: before the departure, activate a voice message indicating the impossibility of stopping in case of call; protect your interlocutors: when the person called is in a driving situation, systematically suggest him to call back.

TELEPHONE AND HEADPHONES: STRICTLY PROHIBITED

As part of an investigation, a requisition from the telephone operator may provide information on the use of the telephone (voice, SMS, internet) at the time of the accident. This may have consequences in the procedure (the lack of attention may be used as a circumstance of liability) and in the context of compensation by the insurance.