With attention turning to road safety this week, Garmin, which has a rich heritage in automotive products created with safety in mind, is taking the opportunity to highlight the profound impact of distraction on driving.
The Department for Transport reported that 117,536 accidents took place in 2019 (that’s 1 in every 326 cars on Britain’s roads). The main reasons for these include drivers failing to look properly (39.9%) and driving carelessly, recklessly or in a hurry (15.5%). With traffic increasing to pre-pandemic levels on the road, this Road Safety Week, Garmin and Emma Kenny want to draw attention to some of the biggest distractions to be aware of when driving and some tips to combat these.
Listening to loud music and changing radio stations
While it may be tempting to think music helps you concentrate; loud music is distracting. A research study discovered that loud music delayed people’s reaction times by 20%, Your favourite songs provoke a sense of nostalgia, which can result in daydreaming.
- “Opt for soothing piano sounds and classical soundtracks. These have been proven to help produce a state of mental flow which will mean you are relaxed and focused,” said Kenny. “Travelling quietly will give you an important solitude that we rarely achieve in modern life. Use this space for mindful practice where you attend fully to the task at hand and allow yourself the gift of the present, a technique that reduces stress and anxiety and promotes a sense of wellbeing.”
Children in the car
We are hard-wired to both protect our children and attend to their needs. Even playing games on their smart technology introduces noise distraction.
- “Encourage your children to use earphones with their digital devices and suggest they listen to audiobooks. This will relax them whilst engaging their brains in divergent thinking, which is excellent for their brains and for promoting a peaceful journey,” said Kenny. “Plan rewards for long journeys as this will help children focus on their behaviour positively. Agree on the reward before you set off, so you have a common goal in mind.”
Eating and drinking
A study by the University of Leeds found that when people consumed food while driving, their reaction time was 44% slower than normal. Concentrating on opening sandwiches or trying not to spill the coffee means you’re not fully concentrating on the road ahead.
- “Factor in time during your journey to stop and enjoy your meal – perhaps even choosing a nice view or park to sit and unwind in while you eat.”
This is a human trait associated with morbid curiosity. There are several distracting elements at play here – you and the drivers around you slowing down to look (which is dangerous on a busy road) and less people paying attention to the road ahead.
- “When approaching a crash site, drive defensively. Be aware of your surroundings and assume other drivers will break the rules. If you must reduce speed, do so with awareness, use turn signals and be prepared to manoeuvre away from distracted drivers. The key is to concentrate on what you can control as opposed to what you cannot,” said Kenny.
Feeling disorganised can impact our levels of distraction. Struggling to remember an address, locate a wallet, or having a sudden realisation that an important meeting has been forgotten is highly distracting.
- “Plan, and prepare before you leave, as this will mean you feel in charge of your journey and at ease with how you are going to arrive at your destination. Execute the extra 15 rule where you leave 15 minutes earlier than you need so that you are not worried about being late and if you need a break you have factored these into your route. Also try writing a travel checklist list before you start your journey and tick these off before you start your engine” advised Kenny.
Mobile Phone Usage
Perhaps obvious, but still important to address. Phone use by drivers has been legally regulated for some time. But more surprising is the extent of their impact – to the point where a drunk driver is more aware of their surroundings than an individual taking a phone call.
- “Complex phone conversations affect visual scanning and reduce a driver’s ability to detect, discriminate among and respond to visual targets by as much as 30 percent.”
Many of us use mobile phones in our cars for navigation, but having your phone set up on a mount puts potential distractions in plain view. By using a dedicated Sat Nav, like the Garmin Drive series, you will still be able to have your journey planned for you, but without the notifications. Features such as live traffic and weather, and alerts for sharp curves, speed changes and school zones also help to increase your awareness of what’s going on around you. And, with voice control, you don’t even need to look at your sat nav.
Discover the Garmin automotive range at https://www.garmin.com/en-GB/c/automotive and see how Sat Nav and Dash Cam products can remove a layer of distraction and help you concentrate on the most important job – getting to your destination safely.
You can discover the Garmin automotive range at https://www.garmin.com/en-GB/c/automotive.