AA: dis­tracted driv­ing must be ad­dressed

The Witness - Wheels - - INDUSTRY -

DIS­TRACTED driv­ing re­mains a prob­lem in South Africa, and will con­tinue to re­main so into the future un­less dras­tic ac­tion is taken. And that ac­tion needs to come from of­fi­cials, but more im­por­tantly, in the form of a change of at­ti­tude among driv­ers. This is ac­cord­ing to the Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion ( AA), which was com­ment­ing on dis­tracted driv­ing fol­low­ing an event hosted in Johannesburg on April 20.

“We brought to­gether a num­ber of jour­nal­ists to drive in sim­u­la­tors. Once com­fort­able with the sim­u­la­tors, we tested them with­out dis­trac­tions, and then again with dis­trac­tions. The re­sults are alarm­ing, and clearly in­di­cate that when dis­tracted, driv­ers’ re­ac­tion times are slower, and they are much more prone to crash,” the AA said.

While in the sim­u­la­tors, jour­nal­ists were sent SMS mes­sages they needed to re­spond to and were asked to open and close a water bot­tle. They were also dis­tracted by be­ing en­gaged in sim­ple con­ver­sa­tion.

“We saw that with­out dis­trac­tions, the jour­nal­ists were able to com­plete a lap of a rac­ing cir­cuit in fairly good times; times recorded for these laps av­er­aged around 1,41 min­utes, with hardly any crashes. How­ever, with the dis­trac­tions these lap times in­creased to 2,20 min­utes, many of them with crashes or the cars spi­ralling out of con­trol. Al­though not en­tirely sci­en­tific, the re­sults point to the dan­gers of hav­ing your con­cen­tra­tion averted from the road, even for a sec­ond,” the AA said.

But the prob­lem is not purely of­fend­ers who dis­obey reg­u­la­tions, specif­i­cally those who use elec­tronic de­vices, or in­deed other de­vices, when driv­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the AA, mo­torists who use these de­vices while be­hind the wheel need to change their at­ti­tudes and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their ac­tions.

“A driver who is talking on a cell­phone, or tex­ting while driv­ing, needs to re­alise that their ac­tions are not only ir­re­spon­si­ble but also put the lives of other, lawabid­ing cit­i­zens, in jeop­ardy. They can cause a crash that in­jures, or worse, kills, other peo­ple through their own reck­less be­hav­iour. We also want to make these driv­ers aware that it can hap­pen to them: no- one is im­mune to the dan­gers of be­ing dis­tracted,” said the AA.

Al­though there are no cur­rent lo­cal sta­tis­tics on how dis­tracted driv­ing causes crashes, the AA be­lieves there is suf­fi­cient anec­do­tal ev­i­dence to sug­gest this num­ber is large enough to war­rant ur­gent at­ten­tion. It said law en­force­ment against dis­tracted driv­ers should be high on the agenda of road traf­fic of­fi­cials, be­yond stop­ping mo­torists at on and off ramps who use elec­tronic de­vices.

While there are many dif­fer­ent dis­trac­tions that con­sti­tute dis­tracted driv­ing, the fol­low­ing are among the most preva­lent:

• talking on cell­phones, or tex­ting while driv­ing,

• eat­ing while driv­ing,

• putting on a tie or other cloth­ing while driv­ing, or chang­ing clothes when driv­ing,

• ap­ply­ing make- up while driv­ing,

• look­ing to the back seat to en­gage pas­sen­gers, es­pe­cially chil­dren,

• set­ting GPS de­vices while mov­ing, and,

• search­ing for items in var­i­ous ar­eas of the car while driv­ing

“We urge all driv­ers to obey the laws, and above all, to be sen­si­ble when driv­ing.

“Re­mem­ber that if you don’t fo­cus on the road, there is a 100% like­li­hood that you will not avoid a crash while you are dis­tracted,” the AA said. — Sup­plied.

PHOTO: NEW LAUNCHES. COM

Even us­ing google maps while driv­ing is a driv­ing dis­trac­tion that can quickly turn dan­ger­ous.

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