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Distracted Driving

Updated: Apr 9

Despite all of the latest and greatest vehicle technology that is intended to keep drivers safe, the number of fatal accidents and crashes continues to increase. I would argue that some of that can be attributed to drivers now having less to think about while driving since a lot of newer cars will check your blind spot and alert you if you begin to drift from your lane. In my opinion safety technology in newer cars is actually more dangerous in some ways because it causes a driver to think less about certain critical aspects of driving, which makes them more likely to look for something else in the vehicle to keep them entertained. Fully automated vehicles are ideal for safety but half-automated ones currently on the roads are deceivingly dangerous and the numbers reflect that.

Many newer model vehicles are equipped with touchscreens in the dash which are the size of an iPad. This forces the driver to take their eyes off of the road and place their finger in a specific spot on the screen in order to make changes to the vehicle's controls . How is this even a thing? Vehicles equipped with tactile feedback controls are much safer and they're the reason that fighter jets are still equipped with them, allowing the pilot to focus on what's around them and still be able to make changes to their controls. I explain this in the video clip below.

When it comes to distracted driving you can think of a football as your cell phone. Let's say you're focused on the ball which is your cell phone, while the linebacker who is running at you represents another car or hazard around you. You'll end up tuning into and devoting all of your attention to the ball or phone and will then become unaware of the dangers around you. The linebacker would have an easy target and could smoke you. Keep your head on a swivel and pay attention like a football player does when other players are trying to hit them. I use this analogy because it happened to me on the first day of high school football tryouts back in the day. I had only played touch football up until that point and so when I went up to catch the ball I got laid out by a linebacker. I wasn't injured but quickly learned that the dangers around me were real. The video below illustrates this and keep in mind that these are humans hitting other humans. A vehicle hitting a pedestrian would be a whole other level of trauma.

This Is What Can Happen When You're Distracted

Stress And Distraction

Stress - Another huge aspect of distracted driving is stress. When a driver is stressed while sitting at a red light they'll be more likely to make a bad decision and start checking their phone, or adjusting a playlist. But if they weren't stressed it would be much less likely that they would do that. Good decisions are more likely to be made when people are not distracted or stressed out.

Road Rage

  • Road Rage - can lead to a suspended driver's license, job loss and legal problems. Many drivers don't recognize when stress is affecting their behaviour.

  • Tailgating - Never brake-check a tailgater because it will only make them more aggressive. It’s better to let off of the accelerator pedal, then they'll notice your vehicle slowing down and wonder what in the heck you are doing. Then they'll likely just pass you and be gone. That being said also note that many drivers don't realize when they're following to closely behind the vehicle in front of them.

Communicating In Traffic

A key aspect of defensive driving is communication with other motorists. We drive around hundreds of vehicles everyday so it's critical for us to communicate with them. The unfortunate thing is our vehicles only have two built in ways to communicate, signal lights and a horns. The problem with the horn is it only has one setting which is usually interpreted by other drivers as negative. But sometimes a driver just wants to give someone a friendly toot of the horn to say thanks. Always think twice before honking your horn, because you never know who is in the vehicle you that you're honking at.

Nicest Car Horn Ever

Joe Rogan talks about getting rear ended in his Porsche by a distracted driver

Why Distracted Driving Campaigns Don’t Work

“Over the past decade there have been many distracted driving campaigns that boil things down to absolutes. “War on distracting driving!” or “Put down that phone.” Distracted Driving is a serious problem that is killing thousands of people every year.”

The video below is the best one I've seen about distracted driving. Instead of using lame one liners or traumatizing photos, this PHD scientist who spends his life studying distracted driving uses science and data to investigate the root causes of distraction. This is the kind of progressive approach that is needed in order to educate and not scare new drivers into doing or not doing something.

Distraction is literally killing us | Paul Atchley

Why Sleep Matters | Matthew Walker | Talks at Google


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