We saw a great post by John Grohol at PsychCentral called Distracted While Driving. He really caught our attention with one thought. We allow ourselves to be distracted while we drive because we think we’re playing a race against time. In reality, we’re playing against the odds.
A study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that about 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near-crashes involved someone who was distracted within three seconds of the event.
I plead guilty as charged. I have to admit to using my car as a roaming second office. I store up phone messages and return calls while I’m on the road. .
I’m in the car on a busy, busy day with all these things rolling through my mind. That’s one of the distractions that we often don’t take into account. I zone out … I don’t really pay attention like I should. I’m in my own world. .
Psychologists have identified four types of distractions, according to Grohol’s article.
- Visual … checking out an accident or looking at a billboard
- Audible … cell phone calls, the radio, or another person talking
- Physical … eating, flipping the dial, shuffling your iPod, or putting on make-up
- Cognitive … daydreaming, thinking about other things in your life
Of course, a lot of distractions are multi-faceted. For example, talking on your cell phone includes three of these – audible, physical, and cognitive.
I really do think it saves time. We have a friend who consults with us. He talks to us when he’s on his hour-and-a-half commute home. I can understand why you would use your phone when you have that long drive.
I won’t dispute that at all, but I now realize more than ever that I have to recognize the odds of something happening and take measures to try to minimize the distractions.
Changes we plan to make
- Leave earlier. When we have a lengthy trip, we usually don’t give ourselves the time to stop and eat. We gas, grab, and go … eating on the road. Leaving earlier will allow us time to stop and eat. We’ll probably eat healthier, too!
- Ignore the phone. Granted, that’s a hard thing to do. So we’re going to turn our ringers off when we’re only going to be in the car for a short time.
- Change our greetings. If we’re expecting an important call, we’ll change the greeting to let them know when we will be checking our messages.
- Pull over (if we can). For those rare situations where we have to take the call, we’ll stop driving momentarily.
What's your biggest distraction while driving?
(Image by krilm)