I was sad to read in the news that a woman had been killed in Japan as a result of being hit by a truck driver playing Pokémon Go. It was just last month in this column that I asked the question ‘Is Pokémon Go the new distracted driving epidemic?’. Tragically, it is less than two months since the app was launched, and already the use of it while driving appears to have claimed an innocent person’s life.

Of course, Pokémon Go isn’t the only cause of distracted driving – it is just the latest in a long line of activities that some people seem unable to resist while driving.

If you can think back to a decade ago, we had certainly already started talking about the problem of distracted driving, although there was probably just one main message to drivers: do not talk on your cell / mobile phone while at the wheel.

Now, not only do we still have this problem, but we are seeing an ever-increasing list of potential distractions tempting drivers to take their eyes off the road. First came texting – which was, and remains, a significant road safety issue – but these days we also need to find a way to discourage drivers from updating social media, taking selfies and using apps like Snapchat at the wheel. What will come next?

Considering how fast technology develops, there is no doubt that in a couple of years we will be talking about other distractions, ones that don’t even exist now. But, how can we prepare for these if we’re struggling to prevent drivers from resisting the distractions that already exist?

We need to get the message across that ANY DISTRACTION is dangerous. Take these facts:

  • Over eight people are killed EVERY DAY and 1,161 injured in crashes reported to involve a distracted driver
  • At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010 (NOPUS)

We desperately need people the world over – of all ages – to get on board with the message: Don’t drive distracted. When you are driving that is ALL you should be doing. Nothing else.

All of the actions below are a distraction while driving:

  • Talking on a cell phone (hands-free or handheld)
  • Texting
  • Checking or updating social media
  • Using apps like Snapchat or Pokemon Go
  • Interacting with GPS
  • Changing the radio / music track
  • Talking to passengers
  • Doing hair / grooming
  • Applying make-up
  • Eating or drinking
  • Smoking
  • Reading or using a map
  • Watching TV / video

We recently ran a news story on www.onemoresecond.net in which RACQ highlighted that texting and driving was almost epidemic. We also regularly run stories on distracted driving topics such as phone free campaigns, warnings about taking selfies at the wheel and why using a smartphone at the wheel is never a good idea.

Clearly, organizations the world over are trying as hard as possible to discourage people from driving distracted. So why aren’t drivers taking notice?

Alice Bailey, campaigns and communications adviser for Brake, the road safety charity based in the UK, recently said: “Younger drivers, especially those aged between 25 and 34, simply aren’t getting the message about the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving. Doing any other complex task while driving hugely increases your chance of crashing. We’ve seen recent examples of drivers who have crashed while trying to play games like Pokémon Go or posting Snapchat images while behind the wheel. These drivers are putting their own and other people’s lives in grave danger by taking this risk. If a phone has to be used as a sat nav, it must be programmed before setting off on the journey and properly secured. There is no other acceptable way to use a phone while driving.”

With advances in technology and more temptations becoming available to drivers, it is crucial people start realising the true danger of driving distracted. Drivers, it’s over to you.

What are your thoughts? Why are people failing to realize just how dangerous it is to do ANYTHING else while driving? I’d love to hear your comments.


E-mail: oms@virtualriskmanager.net
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