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Dangers Of Distraction

3 min read

Distracted driving can be extremely dangerous or even fatal in some cases. Whenever you’re tempted to let your focus, eyes or hands stray from driving, always remember this mantra: eyes on the road, hands on the wheel!

One of the leading causes of traffic accidents worldwide is due to distracted driving. While mobile device use while driving is a leading cause, there are several other factors leading to impaired driving.

Types of distracted driving

 Eyes off the road

Visual distractions can be anything that causes you to divert your visual attention away from the road while driving. Some common causes of visual distractions include using mobile devices or a GPS navigator mounted on your dashboard, or stopping or slowing to observe a traffic incident.

Even something as innocuous as admiring scenery is also considered a visual distraction. Before you set off on a journey, configure the route on your GPS so that you don’t have to use it while driving.

Going “hands-free”

Manual distraction is when the driver takes their hands off the steering wheel to participate in another activity such as eating and drinking, adjusting the vehicle’s audio system, aircon system & etc. or texting.

When it comes to eating and drinking in the car, it is always best to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” approach – you won’t miss it if it’s not there! However, if there’s an urgent need to consume food or beverages, it is better to do so while parked. Based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is found that the driver is 1.57 times more likely to be in a crash when eating. Reaching for your sandwich across the seat is not much safer, increasing your odds of a crash by 1.38 times.

Using the phone while driving is one of the worst activities to do. Based on the World Health Organisation, if you are using a mobile phone while driving, you are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash than a driver who is not using a phone. This risk appears to be similar for both hand-held and hands-free phones, because it is the cognitive distraction that is an issue, not only the physical distraction associated with holding the phone. Text messaging appears to have an even more severe impact on driving behaviour and crash risk.

Did you know… Texting while driving at speeds of 88km/hr is akin to driving the length of a football field blindfolded?

In Singapore, it is illegal to hold any type of mobile device while driving – first-time offenders can be fined up to $1,000 and/or jailed for up to six months, while re-offenders can receive up to $2,000 in fines and/or 12 months in jail.

A hazardous daydream

When one thinks of cognitive distractions, falling asleep at the wheel or driving while sleep-deprived comes to mind, but there are other types too. Daydreaming, excessive worrying or even getting too zealous while singing are also considered forms of cognitive distractions, as they may cause the driver to avert their attention.

While indulging in car karaoke can be tempting, reserve such activities for when the vehicle is stationary. Driving while being extremely tired is unsafe; in fact, studies have found that drowsy driving can sometimes be as dangerous as drunk driving. The key takeaway? Get ample rest before driving, especially if you’re driving long distances.