What People All Have in Common to Get Distracted Behind the Wheel

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Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Transportation Technology (IFTP) published in 2016 a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences where they report that drivers are distracted more than 50% of the time they drive, It doubles the risk of an accident. “Almost 70% of the accidents they analyzed were involved in some distraction,” they state. And is that as we have already told you before.

To carry out this study, cameras, sensors, and radars were mounted inside the vehicles to be able to track and record the drivers for three years, thus observing what happened exactly before an accident.

“These findings are important because we see a younger population of drivers, especially teenagers, who are more likely to participate in distractions while driving,” said Tom Dingus, director of the IFTP and research. He goes on to explain that “if no action takes to limit the number of delays while driving, shortly, the new generation of drivers will continue to be more likely to suffer an accident.”

The research collects information from 3,500 participants from six different states in the United States in which more than 1,600 accidents collected. These mishaps range from the slightest as a blowout on the wheels in which police intervention required.

And not all carelessness affects equally: using the mobile, reading, and writing a message or operating the touch screen increases the risk of suffering a serious incident. Therefore, the study is also postulated as a helpful tool for car manufacturers when creating well-designed interfaces that reduce risk.

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The two regulatory seconds

Scientists draw a red line in activities that keep their eyes away from the road for more than two seconds. “If drivers develop alarms in their mind that make them look at the road in less than two seconds. It doesn’t matter what they are doing since the risk of an accident is reduced by half compared to those who look away for a longer time,” declares the co-author of the Mindy Buchanan-King report.

It should also note that taking your eyes off the road several times due to an activity other than driving increases the risk. “The work demonstrates that continuously the drivers who stop looking in the direction of the asphalt, even if it is in several glimpses, a total of six seconds already raises the chances of a fatal outcome,” adds the researcher. These are the biggest risks:

1. Mobile phones

The capture in absolute terms offers more than 35 million miles of data in which it is clear that the mobile phone is one of the most dangerous distractions. And even though only 0.14% of the time drivers decide to pick up a mobile, the act involves a factor of 12 compared to what the researchers call “driving model” or driving in a state of alertness, Attentive and sober. “Only the fact of reaching a phone increases the chances of an accident fivefold,” they explain.

On the other hand, text messages allocated 1.91% of the time, which places the danger at a factor of six. Talking on the mobile occurs more times, reaching up to 3.24% while the chat raises the figure more than double.

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2. Drink

Absorbing any drink at the wheel is a great danger since the ability to react decreases by having a busy hand. On the other hand, drugs or alcohol increases the risk of having an accident by a factor of 40, although only 0.1% of cases have registered within the study.

Behind the wheel, we must eliminate all kinds of harmful substances that endanger the lives of all drivers. If we need to hydrate (non-alcoholic beverages, of course), we better park the car first.

3. Get excited

An impediment when it comes to glimpsing the roadway is the emotions since sadness, crying, or sensitive agitation occur only about 0.2% of the time. Still, these events significantly increase the risk by almost 1000% compared to the driving model.

4. Interaction with passengers

Other behaviors that predictably seem dangerous, however, are not so dangerous. And, interacting with other adult passengers or children produces the effect called protector.

In the case of parents, “they tend to adapt their driving when they interact with their children, increasing the safety distance and reducing speed,” Dingus says. So we could say that communicating inside a car is postulated as one of the least risk distractions.

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5. Makeup

According to the statistical data that have managed in no case to put on makeup, an accident occurred, so the fact that it is usually considered risky falls in the danger scale. However, this does not imply that we stop being cautious with this aspect.

And the autonomous car?

Also, the experts have wanted to ask if he will be the solution to avoid distractions, fatigue, and other human errors; however, the answer is ambiguous.

On the one hand, the research director explains that eliminating the human factor from driving would reduce the risk by 90-95%. On the other, it highlights that a skilled and responsible driver can perform millions of successful maneuvers for decades and commit a single failure, which represents a remarkable success rate.

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