Study Highlights Dangers Of Driving Distractions

Motorists Take Their Eyes Off The Road 10% Of The Time They Are Driving


Researchers in the US have concluded that drivers take their eyes off the road ten per cent of the time they are behind the wheel.

A team of experts from the National Institutes of Health and Virginia Tech used video technology and in-vehicle sensors to discover how dangerous distractions can be.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the report showed that lapses in concentration can be particularly problematic for inexperienced drivers.

Study co-author Bruce Simons-Morton of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said that novice motorists are eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss while attempting to dial a number into their mobile phone.

The team also found that new drivers who reached over to pick up their phone increased their chances of having an accident seven or eight-fold.

Additionally, inexperienced motorists were deemed to be four times more likely to collide with a pedestrian or another vehicle while they sent a text message. Those who eat while behind the wheel are three times more likely to cause a crash than someone who has no distractions to deal with.

The researchers analysed footage obtained by cameras in around 150 cars and approximately a quarter of the subjects had not held their licence for more than three weeks.

Mr Simons-Morton suggested that all manner of distractions - including using a mobile phone, talking to other passengers, eating, drinking and adjusting the temperature or radio settings - can lead to serious accidents.

"It's important that drivers don't feel compelled to answer every incoming call or text," he commented.

"For young drivers' safety, parents can model this habit when they are at the wheel and also let their children know that they should wait until the vehicle is stopped before taking a call."

It is now more than ten years since drivers were banned from using mobile phones while behind the wheel in the UK and organisations such as road safety charity Brake continue to raise awareness about how dangerous distractions can be.

Expert Opinion
This particular subject about driving distractions has been discussed in great detail over the last few months and this is yet more evidence that distractions such as phones and other technology can cause accidents.

“Taking your eyes off the road for a split second is all it takes to cause an accident. If your phone rings or you need to reply to a text, find a safe place to pull over and stop your vehicle.

“The rules are simple, whilst you are driving, concentrate on your driving and nothing else. We see the impact that road accidents have on people lives on a daily basis and have helped thousands of people get their lives back on track.

"It is important that drivers are more vigilant about road safety and are not distracted by technology in their vehicle to reduce the number of incidents now and for the future.”
Stephen Nye, Partner