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SA drivers 'easily distracted'

2013-03-27 10:25

WHAT HAPPENED TO KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD? A recent survey revealed that young South African drivers are easily distracted behind the wheel.

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...

Read more on:    young drivers  |  south africa  |  wheels24

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