DISTRACTED DRIVING: Being distracted behind the wheel is not only dangerous to you and your passengers, but also to other road users. Image: iStock
Cape Town - Despite new technologies that are making cars safer, crashes and fatalities on the road are increasing.
Human behavior contributes to some of the biggest hazards on the road, reports the Property Casualty Insurers (PCI)
Distracted driving, such as using a smartphone behind the wheel, tops the PCI's list of dangerous behavior on the road.
Sadly, distracted walking is becoming an epidemic too.
Simple modifications, big improvement
Safety is the first concern but the increase in car crashes could affect consumers' insurance costs.
Vehicle insurers are working with policymakers, leading researchers, and automakers to determine how we can better protect drivers and pedestrians and keep costs down.
In September 2016, a Harris Poll conducted a survey among 2000 adults. Here are the findings:
• 70% mistakenly think car safety technology has reduced the number of motor vehicle accidents.
• 85% think that distracted driving is contributing to more motor vehicle accidents than driving under the influence of alcohol.
READ: Distracted driving in SA - Are you guilty?
• 90% of parents who drive say they set a good example for their children by avoiding driving while distracted.
• 88% say people who drive under the influence of marijuana are a hazard to others on the road.
• 90% agree that distracted walking is a major, emerging problem.
While there are many different distractions that constitute distracted driving, here are the most prevalent:
1. Talking on cellphones, or texting while driving
2. Eating while driving
3. Putting on ties or other clothing while driving, or changing clothes when driving
4. Applying make-up while driving
5. Looking to the backseat to engage passengers, especially children
6. Setting GPS devices while moving
7. Searching for items in various areas of the car while driving
IMAGE GALLERY: 'If you text and drive you're a killer' - Arrive Alive
Tips to reduce crashes: List by PCI
• Don't let the modern safety features on new cars make you a complacent driver. Roads are becoming increasingly dangerous for motorists and pedestrians - just at a time when you might be letting your guard down.
• Put down the smartphone. Talking, texting, looking at directions and playing augmented reality games like Pokémon GO all divert your attention from the road.
• And for parents - set a good example for your children.
READ: Parents more concerned over teens driving than sex, drugs
• Minimize other distractions in the car. Avoid eating, fiddling with controls and turning your attention to kids and pets in the back seat.
• Don't drive impaired. Alcohol, drugs and prescription medicine will affect your ability to property operate a vehicle.
• Stay focused on the road. Construction, congestion and hazards like potholes are increasingly common on our streets and highways.
• Support safe driving laws. Distracted, aggressive and impaired driving laws need to be implemented and enforced.
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