Distracted driving is the cause of many preventable motor vehicle accidents. Do you know what is the worst type of driving distraction? According to scientific studies the most dangerous distraction is the one that causes you to look away from the road for the longest period. It is worse than eating, talking, making a quick adjustment on your radio or even daydreaming.
The researchers attributed this hyper-focus despite distracting thoughts to a “sixth sense” that corrects driving deviations.“The driver's mind can wander and his or her feelings may boil, but a sixth sense keeps a person safe at least in terms of veering off course,” said lead author Ioannis Pavlidis, a computer science professor at the University of Houston's Computational Physiology Lab. You may recall times when you are moving from point A to point B while operating your car and actually not being able to remember that period you were driving during those seconds and even minutes, but what is in operation keeping you on course is that "sixth sense" that keeps you safe. “What makes texting so dangerous is that it wreaks havoc onto this sixth sense.” The study's findings underscore the dangers of texting while driving, which has in the past been compared to drunk and drugged driving because of how dangerous it can be. Pavlidis hopes that the research will help develop a car monitoring system that can sense when a person is distracted by a screen while driving.
The theory is that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) of the brain takes over to correct errors due to stress. But the ACC's interventions didn't work during the texting stressor, and Pavlidis thinks that this is because the ACC needs input from the eyes and the hands to know how to drive safely and correct any mistakes.
That explains why texting while driving is a far more dangerous distraction compared to the other distractions mentioned above because it takes a person's eyes off the road, completely disengaging that "six sense" which keeps you safe. The U.S. government calls texting while driving “by far the most alarming distraction,” and some research argues that drivers who text are just as impaired as people who drive while drunk.
How Does This Affect You As A Motorist?
If you're still texting while driving, stop. This study and others show that texting is uniquely distracting because it breaks the eye-hand coordination loop required to steer safely. The best thing to do while driving is to keep your smartphone in your purse or glove compartment while on the road, to avoid distractions and the temptation to use it at red lights, said Pavlidis.
People who use their smartphone for navigation should invest in a device to mount the phone to the dashboard of the car, putting the screen at eye level and keeping it out of hands and laps.
If you must answer or make calls while driving, invest in a bluetooth microphone system and use your smartphone's voice activation commands to do so safely according to Anna Almendrala of the The Huffington Post.
To further illustrate the magnitude of the dangers of texting, In 2013, 3,154 people died in crashes linked to distracted driving, and injuries linked to distracted driving are up. Some 424,000 people were injured in 2013, an almost 10 percent increase since 2011.
Because of statistics like these, 46 states and Washington, D.C. have laws that ban all drivers from text messaging. Among the four states without an overall ban, two ban texting for new drivers and one bans texting for school bus drivers.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, the Brod Law Firm is here to help. Gary Brod, distracted driving accident attorney is dedicated to giving you the best possible results. Contact The Brod Law Firm online or call 1-888-435-7946 (888-HELPWIN) for a free consultation. We serve all of the state of Pennsylvania from our offices in Philadelphia, Reading and Bala Cynwyd.