“Watch the Road, Not the Phone” campaign is the first part of the Arrive Alive program recently launched by the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Science & Technology to promote safe driving by decreasing driver distractions.
Some of the most dangerous forms of driver distractions are making calls and text messaging.
Recent research suggests that drivers spend up to 400% more time with their eyes off the road when texting than they do when not texting.
The advent of mobile broadband has enabled drivers and passengers to benefit from innovative applications. But when used at the wheel, smart phones, like other mobile phones, contribute to inattention.
Research institutions on driver distractions have concluded that retrieving, and in particular sending text messages, has a detrimental effect on a number of safety-critical driving measures, such as the ability to detect hazards and to detect and respond appropriately to traffic signs.
I should point out that technology-based distractions include car radios, CD and MP3 players, not just calls and text messages.
According to the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, driver distraction occurs when a driver is delayed in the recognition of information needed to safely accomplish the driving task because some event, activity, object or person within or outside the vehicle compelled or tended to induce the driver shifting attention away from the driving task.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration distinguishes four (4) types of distraction:
- Visual Distraction, when the driver’s visual field is blocked (for example by stickers on the windscreen) or the driver neglects to look at the road or loses visual “attentiveness”;
- Auditory Distraction, when the driver focuses on sounds (such as the radio or a passenger talking) rather than on the road environment;
- Physical Distraction, when the driver removes one or both hands from the steering wheel to manipulate an object (for example to compose a text message), instead of focusing on the physical tasks required to drive safely;
- Cognitive Distraction, when the driver’s attention is so absorbed that reaction time is reduced and the driver is unable to navigate the road network safely.
Operating a mobile phone may involve all four (4) forms of distraction: physical distraction caused by dialing a number; visual distraction caused by looking at the phone to dial a number; auditory distraction caused by holding a conversation on the phone; and cognitive distraction caused by focusing on the topic of conversation rather than monitoring any changes in the road environment.
Regardless of whether a phone is hands-free or hand-held, drivers in most cases take their eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel to reach the phone, either to dial a number or answer an incoming call. Some studies have found that using a hands-free phone while driving is in no way safer than using a hand-held phone.
So please “Watch the Road, Not Your Phone” and make sure you ARRIVE ALIVE.
St. John’s, Antigua
May 23, 2012