Distracted driving puts you more at risk of an accident

26 April 2018 - 11:31
By Timeslive
Image: iStock Images

Your phone beeps and you reach for it, keeping one hand on the steering wheel. In the 10 seconds it takes for you to read and reply while driving at 86 km/h‚ you travel the distance of more than two rugby fields without your eyes on the road.

This is among the findings of the largest study on driving behaviour yet‚ which states that your accident risk increases 20 times with distracted driving.

Zendrive’s 2018 Distracted Driving Snapshot involved an app-based analysis of more than 16 billion kilometers worth of driving behaviour.

Their research in 2017 and 2018 found the following:

- At any given hour‚ 40% of motorists use their phones at least once.

- Overall‚ motorists use their phones for an average of 1-minute‚ 52-seconds of every hour behind the wheel.

- Motorists use their phones 88 out of 100 trips.

While the study was conducted in the USA‚ Warwick Scott-Rodger‚ executive head of Dialdirect‚ commented that in South Africa‚ an estimated 1 in 4 accidents are caused by texting and driving. He urged motorists to review the research and make drastic changes to their driving behaviour.

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“You may think that you can quickly glance down at your phone and type a quick reply‚ but at a speed of just 86 km/h‚ you’re covering 24 meters every second. If you take 5 seconds to read a message and 5 seconds to reply‚ you’ve covered more than twice the length of a rugby field without focusing on the road. Take the quoted 1-minute‚ 52-seconds motorists spend using their phones behind the wheel‚ and you’ve spent nearly 3km on the road‚ distracted‚” he said.

Tips to avoid being distracted behind the wheel‚ compiled by the insurer‚ to coincide with the Freedom Day-May Day long weekend:

• Don’t overestimate your own luck or abilities just because you’ve called and texted without incident. According to an article by Time‚ drivers ignore the warnings because‚ wrongfully‚ “they’re just not convinced that it’s all that dangerous”. The one time you do get it wrong could cost someone their life‚ which could see you spending most of yours behind bars.

• Never text and drive or browse the web and social media behind the wheel. If you absolutely have to‚ pull over in a safe spot to do so‚ or use an app that allows you to dictate what you need to type.

• For phone calls‚ invest in a hands-free device that can be engaged without major distraction.

• Install an app that blocks you from texting or taking calls whilst driving‚ place your phone out of reach or activate flight mode.

• If you use a GPS‚ then follow the voice-activated directions.

Distracted driving is not limited to phone use.

Here are some other tips to keep you safe:

• Tune your radio or media player before you get into the car and insert any music you want to listen to before leaving home.

• Avoid eating and drinking behind the wheel.

• Keep your kids occupied with electronic devices or sing-a-long CDs of their favourite music and snacks so that they don’t distract you while on the road.

• If something falls into the foothold while you are driving then leave it there until you reach your destination.

“It’s time that we ask ourselves if that quick call‚ reply or update is worth our own or someone else’s life. It’s time to realise that distracted driving really is that dangerous and that we need to make drastic changes”‚ said Scott-Rodger.