Hands-Free, Distracted Driving and Road Safety
Introduction to Distracted Driving and Hands-Free Devices
The safest way to drive is to have all your attention focused on the road ahead and with both hands on the wheel. In modern vehicles and with all the technology for communication, there are many devices that may distract the driver while driving.
Driver distractions include more than just the threat from cellular phone discussions and texting while driving. Even conversations and arguments with passengers may be serious driver distractions.
International studies have revealed that distracted drivers experience inattention blindness. They are looking out the windshield, but do not process everything in the roadway environment necessary to effectively monitor their surroundings, seek and identify potential hazards, and to respond to unexpected situations. The danger of inattention blindness is that when a driver fails to notice events in the driving environment, either at all or too late, it’s impossible to execute a safe response such as a steering manoeuvre or braking to avoid a crash
Possible Preventative Measures to reduce Accident Risks
We would like to focus on some of the preventative measures offered by DistractedDriving.nsc.org:
Eliminating driver distraction due to cell phone use faces significant challenges, even beyond combating drivers’ desire to be connected and productive. Drivers can help avoid this by informing frequent callers that they will not participate in phone conversations while driving. When facing multiple demands for their cognitive attention, drivers may not be aware they are missing critical visual information, and they may not be aware of the full impact of that oversight. This lack of awareness of the distraction could prolong it. Widespread education is needed about the risks of hands-free devices, conversation and cognitive distraction.
Even when people are aware of the risks, they tend to believe they are more skilled than other drivers, and many still engage in driving behaviours they know are potentially dangerous.
Prevention strategies should consider how people behave in reality, not only how they should behave. We know from other traffic safety issues – impaired driving, safety belts, speeding – that consistent enforcement of laws is the single most important effective strategy in changing behaviour.
Therefore, prevention strategies that may show the most promise are legislative and corporate policies, coupled with high-visibility enforcement and strict consequences.