Myths about distracted driving
If your cell phone happens to ring while you’re sitting at a stop light, the urge to check it can be hard to resist; but it’s important that you don’t give in to the temptation. Checking cell phones while driving or even just adjusting the volume of the radio are common causes of accidents. Here are some distracted driving myths.
Distractions and driving: a deadly combination
The fallout of distracted driving can reach far beyond a fine and demerit points. Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Texting; talking on a cell phone; using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions can endanger you, your passengers, and others on the road.
Here are three main types of distraction:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your mind off driving
Multi-tasking is a talent
Studies have shown that effective multi-tasking isn’t really possible when you’re behind the wheel… or anywhere else for that matter. Whether you’re trying to watch TV and do homework or trying to drive and text, the brain can’t truly multitask. Yes, the brain can go from one task to another with lightning speed, but while you’re doing one thing, like eating for example, you’re not focusing on the other, like driving. Your reaction time in such situations is slower, which can be dangerous when controlling a two-ton hunk of plastic and metal travelling at 100 km/h.
Multitasking isn’t a big deal when you’re doing the dishes and watching Netflix, but when you’re behind the wheel, the results could be fatal. When driving, focus on the driving and let everything else wait until later.
Voice-to-text is okay while driving?
Voice-to-text might seem a better option than texting outright while driving, but studies suggest it distracts the driver more than regular texting. Even talking a text takes part of your attention away from driving. On top of that, people usually look at their texts before sending them because voice-to-text can be unreliable in its accuracy.
As long as you can see while driving, you don’t need to hear
You might think that if your eyes are on the road, your ears can be on a phone call, but you’re wrong. Research shows that when you’re talking to someone while driving – whether or not it’s through the phone or in the same car – you experience inattention blindness. Basically, you see but don’t process the world around you. When you’re driving, this can be a costly mistake.
While being distracted by talking can be detrimental, at least a passenger can help you watch the road. On the other hand, if your friend is on their phone while you’re driving, they might not be much help.
Drivers who are talking to adult passengers in their car have an extra set of eyes and ears to help alert to any oncoming traffic issues. Often when an adult passenger sees that the driver is concentrating on making a left turn, they become quiet and wait for a better opportunity to continue the conversation.
Phone use at traffic stops has no negative repercussions?
Even though you’re stopped and can take your concentration off driving for a moment to send or read a text, your concentration is compromised for the next 27 seconds thinking about what you just read or sent. Usually that half a minute is long enough for you to be driving distracted again.
If You’re texting while driving, do it low so nobody can see?
While you shouldn’t text while driving in any way, doing it below the steering wheel is even worse, because you’re then also cutting off your peripheral vision. The police might not see you texting, but you can’t see potentially important things happening around you either.
Preventing distracted driving – What drivers can do
Use apps that prevent texting and driving – there are several free apps you can download to your smartphone that will help you combat distracted driving. They offer different options and features that will assist you in leaving your phone alone while driving.
Of course, the simplest thing to do is to either turn your phone off or turn your notifications and ringer to silent and then put your phone either on the back seat or in the glove box. Before you get into your vehicle, record a message stating that you are in the car and will not be able to use your phone until you arrive at your destination.
Before you start driving, attend to everything that could distract you. Set your GPS, eat before you hit the road and put on your driving playlist. Do not try to multitask while driving. Whether it’s adjusting your mirrors, picking the music, eating a sandwich, making a phone call, or reading an email – do it before or after your trip, not during.
What passengers can do
- Speak up if you are a passenger in a car with a distracted driver. Ask the driver to focus on driving.
- Reduce distractions for the driver by assisting with navigation or other tasks.
What parents can do
- Talk to your teen or young adult about the rules and responsibilities involved in driving. Share stories and statistics related to teen/young adult drivers and distracted driving.
- Remind them driving is a skill that requires the driver’s full attention.
- Emphasize that texts and phone calls can wait until arriving at a destination.
Other safety measures
- Familiarize yourself with your province’s graduated driver licensing system and enforce its guidelines for your teen.
- Know your province’s laws on distracted driving. Many provinces have novice driver provisions in their distracted driving laws. Talk with your teen about the consequences of distracted driving and make yourself and your teen aware of your province’s penalties for talking or texting while driving.
Distracted driving vs. driving under the influence (DUI)
- Drunk driving fatalities have decreased
- Distracted driving fatalities are on the rise
- Writing a text message slows driver reactions by 35%
- Drinking alcohol up to the legal limit slows reactions by 12%
- Texting drivers react 23% slowerthan intoxicated drivers do