We recently participated in the development of a series of infographics and posters on the dangers of DWD and therefore take note of new information on the subject – information that lends clarity, perspective and above all renewed commitment to support drives against DWD.
Potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after a driver engages in some or other form of DWD, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The study results raise new and unexpected concerns regarding the use of phones and vehicle information systems while driving... This research represents the third phase of the foundation’s investigation into cognitive distraction. Results show that new hands-free technologies can mentally distract drivers even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel.
“The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The results indicate that motorists could miss stop signs, pedestrians and other vehicles while the mind is readjusting to the task of driving.”
Researchers found that potentially unsafe levels of mental distraction can last for as long as 27 seconds after completing a distracting task in the worst-performing systems studied. At the 25 mph (40 kph) speed limit in the study, drivers travelled the length of nearly three soccer fields during this time. When using the least distracting systems, drivers remained impaired for more than 15 seconds after completing a task.
“Drivers should use caution while using voice-activated systems, even at seemingly safe moments when there is a lull in traffic or the car is stopped at an intersection,” said Marshall Doney, AAA’s president and CEO. “The reality is that mental distractions persist and can affect driver attention even after the light turns green.” - Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Using the phones to send texts significantly increased the level of mental distraction. While sending voice-activated texts, Google Now rated as a category 3.3 distraction, while Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana rated as category 3.7 and category 4.1 distractions, respectively.
“The massive increase in voice-activated technologies in cars and phones represents a growing safety problem for drivers,” Doney said. “We are concerned that these new systems may invite driver distraction, even as overwhelming scientific evidence concludes that hands-free is not risk free.”
Previous AAA Foundation research established that a category 1 mental distraction is about the same as listening to the radio or an audio book. A category 2 distraction is about the same as talking on the phone, while category 3 is equivalent to sending voice-activated texts on a perfect, error-free system. Category 4 is similar to updating social media while driving, while category 5 corresponds to a highly challenging scientific test designed to overload a driver’s attention.
This research is but part of what is being “unearthed” in studies being conducted around the world.
In reality we probably don’t expect any justification for using and/or engaging in anything that would distract us but why aren’t we prepared to change bad habits?
Many have, so why not work toward encouraging (could even be yourself) to pledge to not misuse a cell phone.
Till next time - Drive Safe and pledge to be different.