Drivers generally understand that driving drunk is a serious risk, but don’t feel the same way about distracted driving, which has proven to be more dangerous.
CRA Motoring & Public Safety – South Africa
Distracted drivers are eight times more likely to have a crash.
Nine out of 10 drivers admit to checking for messages while driving, even though this makes them 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Ultimately, 94% of crashes are preventable.
So says Eugene Herbert, MD of the MasterDrive driver-training company, who believes that distracted driving is posing just as large or possibly a greater challenge than drunken driving.
“While many drivers will not drink and drive, often the same cannot be said about driving with one’s phone in one’s hand. Whether it is a lack of understanding or appreciation of the danger, each driver needs to make an effort to reduce the prevalence of distracted driving,” says Herbert.
When you multitask by using your phone while driving it is impossible for your brain to safely respond to road hazards. – Eugene Herbert, MasterDrive
He notes that the seriousness of distracted driving can be better understood by looking at statistics from recent studies.
“If compared to drunk driving, the Transport Research Laboratory in the UK says writing a text message slows reaction times by 35%, whereas the reaction time of a driver whose blood alcohol concentration is at the legal limit is slowed by 12%. Those who had taken cannabis were 21% lower.
“Thus distracted drivers are eight times more likely to have a crash, whereas drunk drivers are only four times more likely. This does not minimise the danger of drunk driving but emphasises how dangerous distracted driving really is.”
Additionally, using one’s phone while driving requires the brain to multitask, he says.
The research found that drivers who sent or read text messages were more prone to drift out of their lane, with steering control by texting drivers 91% poorer than that of drivers devoting their full concentration to the road.
“The brain handles tasks sequentially, but when you multitask by using your phone while driving it is impossible for your brain to adequately refocus on driving quickly enough and therefore safely respond to road hazards.”