An Overview on Distracted Driving
Ok, let’s start with the stats.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has cited Malaysian roads to be one of the riskiest roads in the world. We had almost 550,000 road accidents in 2018 alone, approximately 1% of them resulting in fatalities. While this percentage may seem small, more than 100 people die each week from road accidents.
With April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, join us in learning and recognising the true extent of danger that distracted driving can cause, so that we can unite our efforts in eliminating preventable deaths and tragedy.
A significant portion of preventable accidents are linked to driver distraction. These distractions can be classified by its source. Internal distractions happen within the vehicle, such as mobile phone use, or tuning a radio. External distractions are stimuli from your surroundings, such as a particularly eye-catching billboard, or looking at someone across the road.
The World Health Organization has categorised driver distractions into four types:
• Visual – looking away from the road for a non driving-related task
• Cognitive – reflecting on a subject of conversation, rather than analysing the road situation
• Physical – holding or operating another object or device, or activity that leads to unintentional steering manipulation
• Auditory – auditory distractions like a ringing phone, or loud music that masks the sound of traffic
Usually, these distractions encompass more than one category at a time, depending on the stimuli.
Driver Distraction Vs Driver Inattention
Distracted driving happens when an external event occurs, triggering the driver to shift attention away from driving (e.g. a ringing mobile phone). Inattention while driving, however, can occur without the presence of a triggering event. Daydreaming, driving in an emotional state, and being fatigued, can create significant diversion of attention.
While we may not be charging down the roads while in a fit of temper, being emotionally or mentally distracted may simply result in not noticing that the roads are wet, or making a sharp turn, having nearly missed it while lost in thought.
While driving can feel like second nature, it is a concentration-intensive task that requires a keen sense of awareness of everything around you. As we explore more about distracted driving in the following weeks, here’s a true story to keep in mind.