By Moses Akaigwe
Removing the threat of distracted driving involves understanding the complexities of this habit. It cannot be minimised to just answering a call while driving. Driving while distracted is much more complex, which could be why it is proving to be such a challenge to change.
Chief executive officer of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says internationally April is Distracted Driving Awareness month. As such, MasterDrive is taking the opportunity to share information on distracted driving in order to contribute to the month of awareness.
Herbert highlights: “There are three types of distracted driving and it behoves us to understand their effect.
“Drivers must understand distracted driving is not limited to visual distraction alone. Manual and cognitive distractions also affect driving. Whether experienced simultaneously or separately, take measures to prevent each type of distraction,” says Herbert.
Visual distraction: This is when your visual focus is removed from the road. “It occurs when reading a text or posting on social media. Even adjusting the radio can cause a considerable distraction from the road.
“Avoid this by never picking up your phone while driving. Install an app such as Ping that allows you to manage your communication without removing your eyes from the road. Use the controls on your steering wheel to control the radio and limit this to volume adjustments only. Save more complex tasks for later.”
Manual distraction: This is when drivers remove their hands from the steering wheel or gearstick.
“It includes eating, drinking and picking up your phone. Even smoking is considered a manual driving distraction. Essentially, your hands will not be where they need to be should you need to react to something unexpectedly.
“When using a phone, the solution is similar to that suggested to end visual distractions. If you need to eat, rather find a safe place to stop and eat. While distractions cause different reactions in people one of the most common responses is to slow down by up to 5km/h. Thus, many drivers would be surprised by how little time is saved by continuing to drive while eating,” says Herbert.
Cognitive distractions. This is where concentration is removed from driving. “This includes talking to other people in the car, experiencing road rage, driving after consuming alcohol or drugs and fatigued driving. Even using Bluetooth can be considered a cognitive distraction in certain circumstances.
“The solution to cognitive distraction is simply to avoid these behaviours, especially as most are actually illegal. When it comes to cognitive distraction caused by cellphones, new technology gives drivers the power to decide which communication can be delayed until later and which you need to be made of aware of while driving.”
Drivers who want to avoid distracted driving need to understand that it comes in different shapes. “It is important to understand how you can be distracted while driving. With this understanding you can also avoid falling victim to the misconception that you are not distracted because your eyes are on the road,” says Herbert.