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Whether it’s the kids in the back seat, the radio or the phone, drivers today have more distractions than ever before. And with less focus on the road, there are now more accidents due to distracted driving than ever previously recorded. As drivers, it is up to us to reverse this trend and get our focus back on the road – exactly where it should be.
The Cost of Losing Focus
One recent piece of research showed that over 22% of all accidents on the road were caused by distracted drivers. That means more than one in five accidents could be avoided if we focused more on our driving. It stated that drivers who are focusing elsewhere while driving are up to three times more likely to have an accident. If you are using a gadget the chances of crashing are even greater. And the biggest culprit is mobile phones.
Don’t Dial and Drive
Last year, the Department of Transport stated that there were more fatalities caused by mobile phone usage than any other type of distraction. Accidents were caused by people calling, reading messages, texting and even using social media while behind the wheel. This caused incidents that saw the user, other drivers and even pedestrians harmed or lose their lives, all because the driver didn’t put their phone down.
Research suggests that using a mobile phone while driving offers the same impairment to driving ability as certain levels of drug or alcohol consumption. Drivers using a phone can be up to 50% slower to react to situations than in normal conditions. And for those that are texting, the chances of having a crash rise by 23 times.
Even those using hands free are not safe. Studies suggest that it is the process of using a phone that distracts the driver, rather than the physical act of holding it. And while hands free kits are currently legal in the UK for drivers, the risk of having an accident while talking on hands free is almost the same as hand held devices. Even hearing the phone ring can cause sufficient distraction to reduce a driver’s ability to avoid an accident.
The situation is now becoming so severe that Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP is said to be proposing a doubling in the number of penalty points for those caught using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle. Meaning six points on your licence for a single offence. Others are calling for blocks to be put on mobile phones making it impossible for a driver to operate such a device while the car is in motion.
For those that do not use their phone while driving, there are also other distractions you need to be aware of. Eating and drinking, smoking, playing music or using any kind of Sat Nav or in-car technology reduces your ability to drive safely. The message is clear. While you are driving, it is your responsibility to focussed and avoid unnecessary diversions. Put your phone away, leave your gadgets alone, and focus on the road. That way everyone can get home safely.