Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Study - Distracted Driving

KidSafe USA, whose mission is "to empower children and parents with personal safety skills to stay safe and think safe," just published a report about "Distracted Drivers in School Zones."

From the KSUSA report: "... research demonstrates that the brain’s ability to perform two or more tasks at the same time generally results in a decreased performance of each task depending on the complexity of the task and how the brain allocates priorities to each task. During every moment of the "Driving Task," vehicle operators are constantly being challenged by a changing environment and road conditions; by the actions of other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians; and by the actions and behavior of passengers and objects in the car. Many drivers also operate their vehicles under less than ideal conditions such as being tired or being physically/emotionally stressed. The sum effect of all these factors makes driving an extremely complex task even under the best of conditions."

Disturbing details:

"... they documented an almost six times greater risk when dialing a phone and 23 times greater risk when texting. Similarly, other studies show that automobile drivers using a phone are four times more likely to crash than drivers not using a phone. This is comparable to drivers with blood-alcohol content of 0.08, the legal definition for drunken driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2003, 240,000 car crashes and 955 deaths occurred due to cell phone use. This may be an underestimation of the true number..."

It goes on to report that distractions aren't caused just by cell-phone use. Other common distractions:
- active conversations with passengers
- preparing, eating, and spilling food
- reaching or leaning
- smoking
- adjusting music device controls
- grooming

KidSafe USA uses the report to emphasize how important it is for drivers to not be distracted while in school zones. I can't help but wonder... why is it okay to drive distracted anywhere else?

I continue to be totally convinced that NO motorist will consciously and deliberately involve himself in an accident. And that the vast majority of vehicle accidents are caused by drivers who are either impaired or distracted.

The KidSafe study can be seen HERE (15 page, 1+ mb PDF document.)

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