For drivers who multitask in the car, it is important to understand how distracting common behaviors are so you can be aware of whether your actions are putting yourself or other motorists at risk of an accident. Any time your focus is shifted from the road, you increase the chances of a collision. However, some tasks that drivers do cause a much greater shift in focus than others and are thus more dangerous.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently observed motorists doing six of the most common tasks that drivers do behind the wheel. According to MSN Money's report on the AAA study, the motorists were observed doing the tasks when they weren’t driving; when they were on a simulated driving course; and when they drove on the roads in a real setting. The purpose was to see how distracting, and thus how dangerous, each of the behaviors were.
Distracted Driving Risk Levels
An experienced car accident attorney in Boston knows such distractions are a primary cause of motor vehicle collisions. The AAA study involved taking measures of the brain activity and of the head and eye movement of the study participants. The study also took a close look at braking behavior and following distance for the participants while driving. The data was then used to assess how risky different behaviors are in the car. According to the study:
- There is a mild risk associated with listening to the radio or with listening to an audio book. Both of these behaviors can be slightly distracting but are not described as being cause for concern.
- There is a moderate risk associated with talking to a passenger in the car. To make sure that the distraction was actually occurring because of the conversation and not because the driver was making hand gestures or looking at the passenger, both of these behaviors were forbidden and the driver was made to keep his eyes on the road and his hands on the wheel. Even with these precautions in place, which a lot of drivers in the real-world wouldn’t take, talking to a passenger was found to be a moderate distraction.
- There is a moderate distraction associated with the use of a cell phone to talk while in the car. The study looked at both talking on a hands-free phone and talking on a handheld phone. Despite a widespread misconception that hands-free phones are safer, both behaviors were found to be about equally distracting and to be moderately risky.
- It is an extreme distraction to use a text-to-speech program to email or text. This behavior was considered to be very dangerous for drivers. Drivers, when focused on their text or email, experience inattention blindness and could miss seeing an obstacle or a hazard on the road right in front of them.
The data, therefore, shows that drivers who care about safety should never text or email and drive, even when using a speech program. Drivers should also avoid cell phone use entirely and should be sure to remain focused on the road as a first priority even when talking to passengers.
Call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone in Boston.