|Posted on 21 January, 2020 at 7:00|
One of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents in Australia, is being distracted while operating a vehicle. Be it a car, bus, truck, motor-bike – if you can drive it, you can be distracted. And you could be distracted by one or all of the many ways that you can have your attention drawn away from the job at hand, driving and negotiating traffic.
And if there weren’t enough distractions out there already, the introduction of the mobile phone into our everyday lives has had fatal consequences for so many people.
So how many ways do you think you could be distracted, apart from mobile phones?
Lets start inside your car, as you are chugging down the road, stuff that can take your eyes and attention away from the road –
• Adjusting your radio, mirror, seatbelt, air conditioning, heater,
• Switching on/off your radio, CD Player wipers, headlights, heater, air con,
• Changing stations, CDs, flash drives,
• Eating, drinking, lighting a smoke (yuk),
• Talking, arguing, yelling, winding a window up or down – manually or electrically
• Selecting a destination on your satnav,
• And if you drive a manual, selecting the right gear, using the handbrake on a hill,
Can you think of many more?
The most common distractions are other people in your car, and adjusting your sound system. Figures from the NSW Department of Transport tell us that 14 percent of all accidents are caused by internal or external distractions, and as much as one in ten fatalities are attributed to driving distractioned.
The crazy thing is, 98% of drivers agree that is is very dangerous to use a mobile phone while driving, yet 28% admit to repeatedly doing it themselves!
The article goes on, ‘Distractions from outside the vehicle account for about 30% of the distractions that lead to crashes. And distractions from within vehicles account for up to about 36% (the remaining 34% is unknown).
Typically, the two biggest distractions inside the vehicle are other passengers and adjusting the sound system. Research has also shown that drivers using mobile phones and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) while driving are also much more likely to be involved in crashes. Text entry into a GPS unit while driving can be extremely dangerous. Sending and receiving text messages on a mobile phone while driving is also extremely dangerous, and is also illegal.’
And in Tassie, AMII did some research and
Tasmanian drivers are the worst in the country for hitting parked cars, according to new data collated by a major insurance company........motorists on Tasmanian roads are almost twice as likely as those driving on the mainland to hit an animal.
Crash Index data from more than 8,000 accidents between July 2017 and June 2018, released by insurer AAMI, has revealed 11 per cent of all car crashes in Tasmania were instances of drivers running into parked cars — well above the national average of 8 per cent.
Using a mobile phone while in the drivers seat, is illegal. You know that, and you have known it since you were a kid. You have seen other people doing it, and you know they are breaking the law. The fine is now more than $300 and will cost you 3 demerit points.
When you lose demerit points, it takes 3 years to get them back. As a novice driver, there is a really good chance that as you gain experience you will occasionally misjudge your speed, not quite stop at that Stop Sign, forget to indicate coming off that roundabout. It is so easy to accumulate demerit points, and you will get them back. But being distracted by whatever is happening inside – 34% - or outside – 36% - your car, could contribute to you missing that speed sign, missing that stop sign, forgettting that indicator – and the conswequences could be fatal.
As a beginning driver, part of the responsibility that comes with obtaining a driver’s license is ‘the buck stops here!’ Whatever you do in your car, is on you. If you remember the Stop Sign, or posted speed limit, you won’t be congratulated or given a trophy, because these are things expected of you. If you forget stuff, being distracted will not reduce your culpability in any accident. The buck stops with you!
If this is a bit heavy, it is meant to be. You see if you cause the death or serious injury of another motorist, passenger or pedestrian, that will be a life sentence for you. If you are a beginning driver, 17 or 18, this is something you really, do not want.
If you are using your phone, or having a great old time with your mates in your nifty little i30, and miss that red light, or miss that tightening bend, people will get hurt or die, and as the driver, it will be on you.
You have the capacity to understand that having a driver’s license really is a privledge. When you complete your driver training, and pass your P1 Assessment, your outlook will change. You will feel a little more free, and you will have the urge to get in your car and just go for a drive, because you can.
Thats fine, but you have bugger all solo experience, and i’m sorry, but your misplaced confidence in your own ability may see you move statistically from the least likely to have a serious accident as a Learner driver, to the most likely to have a serious accident as a ‘P’ Plater.
The best way to beat that statitic is to gain experience. To drive within yourself, and continue to learn, to keep developing that situational awareness, keep scanning for potential points of conflict and stay safe.
A great way to get valid experience while you are a Learner, vary your driving. Get experience in night driving, wet weather, country, heavy city traffic, light country town traffic. Try to get into a few different vehicles – small cars, bigger cars and vans. The Keys2Drive program talks about getting experience long, wide and deep. Get lots of time behind the wheel before your assessment, get a wide variety of conditions and traffic, and think about how you feel when something happens, and how you deal with it.
And if you have any queries, call us at Launceston Driving School or drop us a line.
Finally, make courtesy contagious!