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Awkward or Genius? An Attempt to Thwart Driver Distraction

Today’s distracted driver might not look that much different than yesterday’s. The types of distraction are what continue to increase.

Yesterday, it was simply calls and texts. Today, more and more drivers are using in-vehicle technologies to call, text, stay connected to social media, make dinner reservations and order take out. A new study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety revealed drivers are 57% more likely to be manipulating a cellphone today than they were four years ago and are using phones in riskier ways.

Fiddling with a hand-held phone is tantamount to taking your eyes off the road. This increases crash risk. Likewise, your mind is elsewhere when using voice commands with hands-free devices. Cognitive distraction can result in a phenomenon referred to as inattention blindness.

This is a phenomenon that causes you to miss things that are right in front of your eyes or fail to notice things that are fully visible, but unexpected, because you are engaged in a task unrelated to driving.

In fact, research shows drivers engaged in hands-free cellphone conversations tend to focus on the center of the road. The rest of what is in their driving field can go dark, as if covered by a blindfold.

People have grown more and more addicted to their phones. Employers absorb crash costs whether they occur on or off the job, including incidents involving family members. Many employers have enacted save driving policies as a way to keep costs down and keep employees safe.

Employers continue to address distracted driving through their safety education efforts. Share this public service announcement and gather feedback from your employees and co-workers.

Can holding hands really make our roads safer? I’m up for trying anything.

Lisa Robinson is a senior program manager with the National Safety Council

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