SA drivers 'easily distracted'

2013-03-27 10:25

Earlier in March 2013 we reported that Goodyear’s annual 2013 road safety survey revealed youth in South Africa were among the most aggressive drivers in the world.

Another survey shows that young SA drivers are far more likely to be distracted by phone calls and internet use while behind the wheel compared to their European counterparts.


The poll revealed how youngsters phone, text and surf the web while they are driving, with South Africans emerging amongst the top users of phones without headsets (61% vs. global 44%), along with Swedes and Russians.

Young drivers in the UK (15%), Spain (26%) and the Netherlands (27%) are the least likely to use their phones without headsets, perhaps proving that stricter enforcement of the law can be effective.

South Africans are similarly far more likely to use their smart phones to send text messages, go online, visit social networks, send or read emails or use messaging services.

Lize Hayward, Goodyear South Africa Group Brand communications manager said: “Today’s young drivers have too many distractions at their fingertips. Our study was specifically designed to explore a wide range of factors from driver training through to general concerns amongst young drivers.”

While new technology undoubtedly provides a particular danger, the survey revealed that more traditional multi-tasking activities also continue to distract young drivers, with South Africans amongst the most easily misled.

Some of the most common behaviours include:

Drinking behind the wheel (75% vs global average 58%)
Eating behind the wheel (71% vs global average 45%)
Looking at a map, changing GPS settings, shaving, putting on make-up, styling hair and even kissing (33%).

Contrary to popular belief, the brain is not capable of multi-tasking, but only of tasking sequentially, switching quickly from one task to another. The distraction caused by carrying out other tasks while driving is known by experts as “inattention blindness”, which causes us to look at objects but simply not see them when we are talking on the phone.

Scientists who have studied people attempting to multi-task at the wheel observe that they acquire a false confidence and believe that they can complete a series of tasks while also driving. The problems occur when something untoward happens and they need to react in a split-second by quickly reducing speed or changing lanes. Only then does it become apparent that their judgement is impaired.


Hayward said: “Today’s world clearly offers far too many distractions for young drivers and this will significantly inhibit their ability to concentrate at the wheel. Driving requires 100% of our concentration and attention and youngsters need to put phones and other distractions to one side when they get behind the wheel of a car.”

Do you agree with the results of this survey? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts - or have your say in the Readers' Comments section below...


  • Monique Naude - 2013-03-27 11:13

    Stricter law enforcement? They can't even stop criminals from murdering, raping and stealing... And bribery is the order of the day.

  • deon.duplessis.144 - 2013-03-27 11:19

    Whahaha well said Monique!!

  • Peter Leonard - 2013-03-27 11:34

    I had to read the article 3 times before I got what they were saying, reading in the traffic wasn't as easy today as it usually is. Hahahaha...the reality is no joke, law enforcement is unable to force the laws because the criminals have a greater freedom and when the law enforcers get to force their positions, they either absude the power or take a bribe to let people go and become the criminal themselves...it is a loose loose, the justice system is too weak in South Africa, until that changes, the problems will only get a lot worse before getting better. Fact

      KingPun - 2013-03-27 11:59

      Thats IF it ever gets better...

  • Petie Van De Werken - 2013-03-27 11:56

    It becomes a problem when the Law Enforcement people are doing exactly what you just described in your article. Talking on phones etc while driving and blatantly ignoring the rules of the road and then has the audacity to pick and choose which law and rules they want to enforce.

  • Andre Fourie - 2013-03-27 11:58

    Lock them up. That is all I can say. I doodoo every time in my pants when I see some idiot on his phone. And if you want to drive around drunk, you deserve to get locked up. You just put other people's life in danger, chop.

  • Petie Van De Werken - 2013-03-27 12:00

    Young people needs to be taught respect for life, the law, rules, authority and others first before anything would change in this country. We appear to be a lawless people because of our lack of respect. This is costing our beloved country millions that could have been used to alleviate poverty.

  • Leroy Shaun Petzer - 2013-03-27 15:25

    The requirements for getting a licence needs to be change from the crap they are teaching currently to something like the way the army does it. x hours town driving x hours highway x hours night driving x hours day driving x hours peak time driving an adv drivers course in skid control and collision avoidance. Once that is complete they then do the drivers test and once they pass get a 3-5yr limited license where they are limited by an engine size of 1300cc. If after 3-5yrs they have not been involved in any accidents or received x amount of traffic violations they can then be awarded with a normal license and can drive the car of there choice. At this stage they got to do a refresher course on the skid pan. This way they start to understand how to handle an automobile and what the inherent risks/responsibilities involved in driving a car.

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