Behind the wheel? Turn your mobile ‘phone off and save your life

Behind the wheel? Turn your mobile ‘phone off and save your life 

Many business people think that they’re so busy during the day that they want to use what is sometimes known as ‘dead time’ to handle their calls and texts. But this ‘dead time’ can in fact turn deadly.

Recent research has shown that forgetting about your ‘phone whilst in the car is the safest and most time efficient option.

An alarming study was released in September this year by the University of Strasbourg, France, for the VINCI Highway Foundation concerning mobile ‘phone use behind the wheel.

The study proved that when a driver uses their mobile while driving, their ability to concentrate is reduced by 30 to 50%. Information that requires a high level of attention, such as reading street signs, can be twice as difficult.

A previous study had shown that nearly half of all drivers use their mobile ‘phone while driving, which makes one wonder why so many accidents occur on the roads.

The study, conducted both in real terms and in the laboratory, also found that these drivers are more likely to admit that they witnessed an event that never took place, indicating an alteration of attention and memory capacity.

Tunnel vision

When drivers are on the ‘phone, all their actions are slowed. They drive more slowly and spend more time in the overtaking lane. Their braking distance is lengthened by 33% (100 metres at 130km/h) over drivers not talking on their ‘phone.

Drivers are also less careful with lane control due to them driving with only one hand – dangerous at the best of times.

If texting or dialling a number, drivers need to take their eyes off the road, thereby narrowing their field of vision and how much attention they pay to the road – which makes it very dangerous. Using a Bluetooth kit, headset or speaker ‘phone makes no difference: the conversation itself is causing the loss of attention. A driver is less distracted by a conversation if the speaker is present in the vehicle.

The Centre of Neurocognitive and Neurophysiological Investigations at Strasbourg University conducted the study in two parts: the first on a motorway service area where 3,500 drivers responded to questions, the second in a laboratory where 90 people participated in driving simulator tests.

So from now on, not only do you need to fasten your seatbelt and keep an eye on your speed, but make sure your mobile ‘phone is put away whilst you drive if you intend to arrive on time and in one piece.


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