Driving is second nature to almost all Southern Californians. It’s not easy to get from place to place here without a car. But, driving a car can also be dangerous – not because of the external dangers presented by negligent motorists and hazardous roadways, but also because of the dangers inside the vehicle.
According to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, researchers found that some in-vehicle distractions have little effect on a motorist’s ability to focus on the road while others present a bigger hazard.
Key Findings of the Study
Most importantly researchers found that some of the technological innovations that are designed to make driving safer may fail to do so. They found that hands-free does not necessarily mean safe or risk-free. For the purpose of this study, participants were asked to perform each task while not driving, while driving in a simulator and while driving a car in a real-world situation. Evaluations were made based several measures including brake reaction time and following distance, brainwave activity and eye and head movements.
Here are some of the study’s significant findings:
• Listening to the radio is not a significant distraction.
• Listening to a book on tape carries minimal risk while driving.
• Talking to a passenger presents a moderate risk while driving.
• Hands-free cell phone use presents a moderate risk despite the fact that they are being marketed as a solution to hand-held cell phones.
• Speech-to-text systems that allow drivers to send texts and emails by speaking presents an extensive risk to drivers.
Preventing Distracted Driving
Driving while distracted can cause or contribute to devastating crashes. Whether you are looking at a cell phone or turning around to talk to a fellow passenger, even a few moments of inattention has the potential to cause a catastrophic crash on the roadway.
You could travel the entire length of a football field in the few seconds that you may take to read or send out a text message.
Some simple safety measures to avoid distracted driving will help prevent an accident. The best way to avoid these dangers is to focus 100 percent on driving when you are operating your vehicle. Turn off your cell phone so you are not even tempted to look at it or use it. Your life or the life of another human being is certainly more precious than a minor distraction.