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A study has found that the fear of missing out is what makes us look at our phones while driving
The fear of missing out is what prompts many motorists to glance, text or talk on their phones while they’re driving.
An international study, published in Risk Analysis: An International Journal, found that many drivers did not perceive texting and driving to be dangerous in certain driving scenarios.
A total of 447 drivers in south-east Queensland, Australia, answered questions about perceived crash risk, driving comfort, driving difficulty, driving ability, likelihood of engaging in a voice call and likelihood of engaging in texting.
The research team found that women are more likely than men to engage in cellphone use while driving.More experienced drivers are less likely to engage in distracted driving. Results show that as the number of years with licence increase, the probability of participating in distracted driving decreases, and drivers who are more uninhibited are more likely to drive distracted.
Demanding traffic conditions and the presence of law enforcement were reported as effective measures in reducing the likelihood of distracted driving.“Drivers are not good at identifying where it is safe to use their phone. It is safer for drivers to just pull over in an appropriate place to use their phone quickly and then resume their journey,” said researchers.
Drivers were much more likely to talk on their phones while driving than they were to use their phones to text.
In the US, cellphone usage has been a factor in one quarter of all car collisions. However, actual crash risks vary based on the type of task being performed and the extent of its cognitive and physical demands on the driver. Talking on a mobile device increases crash risk by 2.2 times whereas texting increases risk by 6.1 times.
The problem is very much prevalent in South Africa, says Arrive Alive, which has gone as far as tweeting dashcam footage of distracted drivers causing mayhem.“It is a significant problem, one which is difficult to police and also difficult to find accurate data on.
“Most people will never admit to having texted before a collision – as this would be breaking the law and insurance claims may be rejected or nullified by a insurer if it is admitted as being the cause of a crash,” said Arrive Alive’s advocate Johan Jonck.
“The roads are already dangerous enough with many existing threats to road safety! When we add cell phones and text messages to existing road risks, we are taking this beyond anything we should be dealing with on the roads.
According to Arrive Alive, drivers generally understand that drink-driving is a serious risk, but have less of an understanding about the dangers of texting.
“Those who are aware of the impairment to their driving are not aware how great this impairment is.
“Studies have suggested that texting while driving is riskier than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A combination of factors leads to impairments of reaction time and vehicle control which places the driver at greater risk than having consumed alcohol and getting behind the steering wheel.”The risks of driving and texting
Some safety advocates argue that the mere act of talking to someone not in the car – whether the phone is up against your head, or in a cup holder while wearing an earpiece – is a risky overload of a driver’s cognitive functions.
When texting, drivers are distracted by taking their hand off the wheel to use their phone, by trying to read small text on the phone display and by thinking about how to write their message.
The reaction times of texting driver deteriorated by 35%, much worse than those who drank alcohol at the legal limit, who were 12% slower.
Research found that drivers who sent or read text messages were more prone to drift out of their lane, with steering control by texting drivers 91% poorer than that of drivers devoting their full concentration to the road.
– Arrive Alive