THE 5 WORST THINGS TO DO WHILE DRIVING SOBER
A study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in the United States investigated the distractions we encounter when driving as reported by CBS News.
The survey claims that four million of the nearly 11 million crashes every year in the US alone could be avoided if there was no distraction.
Although the research was conducted in the USA, this information can be relevant in South Africa as well as worldwide, as we too have many distracted drivers on our roads.
Distracted driving still a massive problem in SA!
Without even having a drop of alcohol and being in perfect health, here is a list of the five worst distractions, going from bad to worse:
- Operating the car radio while driving doubles the risk of a crash
Besides having a number of radio stations to choose from, we have alternate options of using discs, USB sticks and even plugging in our phones. Switching between all these options can get quite distracting especially when your focus is supposed to be on the road only.
2. Using a touch screen menu
This you’ll find in virtually all new cars. The use of a touch screen menu increases the risk by a factor of 4.6.
3. Texting while driving
It is surprising to see that texting while driving is not the worst distraction – it is, however, still a very bad idea. According to NAS, an accident is 6.1 times more likely to happen when texting.
WATCH: Horrifying texting and driving footage
4. Reaching for an object out of immediate reach
This could be a cell phone that fell on the ground or a bag on the back seat – that’s out of reach. In cases like these, the driver is forced out of his/her driving position. As NAS puts it, a driver’s “eyellipse” or field of vision is altered when the person moves – this is disorientating, especially when the windshield and/or rearview mirrors float out of view.
5. Use of cell phone – to make calls
It is the process of dialling a number to make a phone call that is by far the worst driving distraction according to NAS. This tops the scale by a factor of 12.2.
Also read: Safety tips for driving with “vulnerable” passengers
Arrive Alive suggests the following tips on how to avoid being distracted when driving:
- Stay focused and alert at all times
- Practise short quick glances and avoid prolonged staring
- Never read whilst driving – rather pull off the road to read
- Do not attempt to change or pull off clothing while driving
- Conduct personal grooming before leaving or after reaching your destination
- Do not allow passengers to interfere with your concentration
- Make sure children and pets are properly restrained before you start driving – and give children items to occupy themselves
- Use pet carriers or portable kennels to restrict the ability of animals to roam around in the vehicle.
- Pull over and stop if small children require attention that could divert your concentration from the road
- Avoid eating and drinking while driving – fumbling with napkins, wrappers and beverages means you’re not watching the road.
- Plan your trip in advance and allow yourself time to stop and have a bit to eat.