Distracted Driving

It’s easy to get distracted when you’re driving. Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player, talking to passengers, grooming, and in-car technology all cause a driver to lose concentration with potentially fatal consequences.  The most deadly distractions of all are texting and talking on the phone which dramatically increase the probability of a crash involving death or injury. Every single time you take your eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, you put yourself and others in danger.

Distracted drivers are dangerous drivers

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity you do while driving a motor vehicle. A distracted driver is dangerous to himself and everyone else because he is not exercising the 100% full care and attention necessary to control the vehicle and ensure the safety of passengers and other road users alike. There are 3 types of distraction:-

  • visual, taking your eyes off the road;
  • manual, taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • cognitive, taking your mind off the road.

There are many reasons for distracted driving including busy lifestyles and stressful jobs coupled with technology that enables us to be reached instantly 24 hours a day and encourages us to remain permanently ‘switched on’. Worldwide, driver distractions have risen to unprecedented numbers and are responsible for an increasing number of fatal and injury crashes.

Distracted driving is a growing menace on Oman’s roads and is obvious everywhere you look; drivers drifting or swerving across lanes, stopping at green lights, running red ones, driving out of side roads without looking, or narrowly missing other cars or pedestrians because they are texting or talking on the phone, eating, dealing with unrestrained children in the car or a combination of several distracted behaviours. Such drivers are potentially lethal to other road users as their minds are on the conversation not on the vehicle they are driving.

Using a mobile phone while driving

Using a mobile phone to talk or text is a potent cocktail of distractions; visual, manual and cognitive all rolled into one. People continue to believe that they can drive and text or talk at the same time despite research showing that:-

  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to be involved in an injury-related crash;
  • Using a cell phone while driving – whether it’s hand-held or hands-free delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit;
  • Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted;
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent, at 55 mph per hour, of driving the length of an entire football field, blindfold;

Drive phone-free

Losing concentration behind the wheel can have tragic consequences. Discouraging distracted driving starts with you. Resolve today to:

  • Never text or talk while driving. Put phone out of sight on silent or, even better, drive phone-free, switch off while in the car;
  • Speak out if a passenger and the driver is distracted. Ask him/her to switch off their phone while driving or find a safe spot to pull over and stop to answer an emergency call;
  • Encourage colleagues, friends and family to drive phone-free.

Good drivers just drive!