20 March 2014

Texting while driving is 'most dangerous thing'

#driverdistraction Drivers who text are 23 times more in danger of crashing, a Driver Distraction road safety conference in Dublin heard today, writes Brian Byrne.

Professor John D Lee from the University of Wisconsin outlined various definitions of distraction, dividing them into visual, manual and cognitive — or not keeping eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on driving.

He explained various studies which provided actual metrics about different distraction situations. Among them, having a conversation on the phone usually makes drivers concentrate on the centre of the road ahead and they can miss potential dangers on the edges of their area.

Professor Lee provided from his own experience the dangers posed by scrolling through menus on screens, such as choosing music tracks, which can result in eyes being off the road for relatively long times. He noted research which showed that after 15 seconds of this scrolling, the periods between glancing back at the road tended to get longer.

He spoke of a number of new technologies in cars, including the shift from buttons to touchscreens, which can result in greater distraction.

Through his presentation, Professor Lee emphasised that it is pretty well impossible to do two things at once without one of them suffering.