For every text, emoji and selfie that you do while driving, your awareness while driving is compromised placing you and those around you in danger. A 2009 study by the Pennsylvania University says glancing at your phone for 3-seconds while driving is equivalent to driving through two basketball courts with your eyes closed. That is a long distance to be not looking at the road.
Research also shows that for majority of drivers, their brain has difficulty processing two tasks simultaneously. It can switch between the tasks, yes, but it will perform each more slowly. Many people think they can do two things at once – like talking or texting on the phone while driving – but it’s just not possible to concentrate fully on both.
Drivers stop monitoring their environment. And new drivers in particular aren’t in the habit of scanning the road for hazards – with a phone in hand, it’s an even more dangerous combination.
“In my experience of training hundreds of drivers, I’d say that even normal, everyday driving uses around 85 percent of your mental load. Sending one text or selfie, and even talking with a passenger, can overload the brain while driving – increasing the risk of an accident,” says Matt Gerlach is one of America’s most advanced driving instructors spending the past 10 years training engineers to become expert drivers in Australia.
More study also shows that distracted driving cuts a driver’s field of vision by as much as 50 percent. This means that drivers don’t “see” important objects that are right in front of them, like red lights, pedestrians and obstacles in the road, putting everyone at risk.
“When you’re using 85 percent of your brainpower to drive, your mind isn’t capable of doing much else,” adds Gerlach. “Regardless of whether you’re a professional or new to the road – you will be a safer driver if you understand how much of your brain you’re using just to drive the car.”
Experts have identified four main types of driver distractions: 1) Visual, like looking at a phone, causing drivers to take their eyes off the road; 2) Auditory, such as loud music, causing drivers to miss important sounds; 3) Manual, such as eating, causing drivers to take one or more hands off the wheel; and 4) Cognitive, like tiredness, causing diminished concentration.
And using a mobile phone while driving is exactly all four.
In a 2017 Ford survey throughout Asia Pacific, drivers throughout the region ignore these warnings. The survey sows 43 percent of parents in Asia Pacific admit to having had an accident or near miss due to distracted driving. More than 50% of drivers in Asia Pacific admit to using their phone while driving, even though they are aware of the dangers. Almost 50% of drivers in Asia Pacific say they use a mobile phone even when “precious cargo” such as a child is in the car. Among those surveyed, mobile phone use topped the list of in-car distractions.
Here in the Philippines, the Anti-Distracted Driving Act has been passed two years ago, but despite the first burst of enforcement (and public outcry) it does not seem to be a factor on mitigating road crashes at all. And while no data yet exists from local law enforcement, most traffic cops admit that there is a huge number of drivers still using their mobile phones while driving.