AUSTRALIAN motorists are distracted by something other than driving every 96 seconds they are behind the wheel; a landmark study has found. The research, conducted by Monash University’s Accident Research Centre, is set to be published in the coming weeks It found that drivers are increasingly engaging in activities other than concentrating on the road — increasing their risk of crashing nearly tenfold. Researchers from universities in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane examined 117 drivers from NSW and Victoria over a period of four months.
While most drivers were distracted by one task, the study found that a staggering 20 per cent of drivers did several things at once while driving. This could include eating while talking on the phone, or adjusting the radio while on the phone, all of which drastically increases the risk of crashing. ADJUSTMENTS According to the study, people were mostly distracted by adjusting buttons on the centre stack or playing with seat belts. These activities took five seconds or less and accounted for about 35 per cent of all distractions. The drivers also peered at their phones regularly and spoke on their phones which accounted for 23 per cent of all unsafe driving behaviour or conflict with other drivers on the road. 2 seconds looking at your phone equals 33 metres driving blind.
Eating and drinking made up a large part of driver distractions, “Eating and drinking are long activities and drivers tend to complete these in the space of several minutes which means they’re exposed to danger for longer as well.” REACHING One of the most concerning discoveries was that about 7 per cent of all distractions of drivers involved physically reaching for things like sunglasses, food or bags in their car. Reaching for things while you’re driving can increase your risk of being involved in a crash by nine times. The researchers hoped the study would make drivers aware of how easy it can be to lose control of a vehicle and place many lives at risk on the road. Anything that takes your eyes off the road for two or more seconds doubles the risk of you crashing. Life Strategist, Speaker and Author Sally Thibault joined me the show to discuss this topic.
Click on the image to listen to the interview.