Driver Distractions Extend 27 Seconds beyond Act

30 October 2015 - By Eugene Herbert

Hi Folks…

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


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

Till next time - Drive
Safe and pledge to be different.

Eugene Herbert

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