A HealthDay Poll in November 2011 of 2800 American adults found:
- Approximately 13% of adult drivers have browsed the Internet while driving
- Approximately 14% of drivers have applied makeup while driving.
- At least 1 out of every 5 drivers have admitted to combing or styling their hair while driving.
- Approximately 36% of adult drivers have used a map as road guidance while driving.
- Approximately 37% of drivers have texted while driving at least once, while 18% of drivers have said they have formed the habit of doing it often.
- Approximately 41% of adult drivers have set or changed a GPS system while driving, and 21% do it “more frequently.”
- Approximately 86% of drivers have admitted to eating or drinking while driving.
Back in 2006 towns in Germany and Holland began to remove traffic signs off the back of research that suggested that the more signs we have, the more distracted we are. Having less signs has proven to lead to safer driving in some circumstances.
“Many road signs are only put up so that road authorities are covered for insurance purposes and not necessarily because they provide the driver with useful information,” said one representative from the German Transport Ministry.
Road signs take up real estate and provide distractions as drivers look at them rather than looking at the road. Simplifying the rules and only placing signs where they are needed removes the clutter from roads, eliminates blind spots behind signs, and causes drivers to drive more cautiously.
The town of Bohmte removed all traffic lights and unnecessary signage in 2007 in a zone in the town that they called Share Space – it created an area where pedestrians, cyclists and motorist have equal standing on the road. In the following month the accident rate dropped to zero.
Whether it’s an unruly child you are having to discipline or a group of friends you are engaged in an interesting conversation with, other people in the car are distracting, as are unrestrained pets.
Vehicle entertainment systems
Vehicle entertainment and satellite navigation systems are constantly developing more functionality. Vehicle manufacturers attempt to make the user interfaces as easy as possible, and put controls for basic functions such as volume and changing tracks on the steering wheel.
Programming a satellite navigation cannot be done without taking your eyes off the road. Many cars with built-in navigation systems prevent the driver from making changes to the sat nav while the car is moving.
You are 23 times more likely to have an accident if you are text messaging. Text messaging requires you take your eyes off the road to read text replies and check that what you have written makes sense. You can use voice recognition to compose text messages and this is less risky. Some vehicles, such as Holden’s Commodore, have Siri Eyes Free technology which connects an iPhone to the vehicle’s entertainment system.
Food and drink
Eating food is distracting. Food needs to be unwrapped and this takes your hands off the wheel. It can spill in your lap, and when you are bringing a cup up to your mouth it is easy to create a blind spot either with the cup or as you tip your head back.
You are four times more likely to have an accident when talking on the phone, even with a hand-free kit. It’s safest to pull over to have a conversation.
Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists