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Emotional drivers causing collision chaos, according to study

New research from ARRB shows two in five Australians have had a collision or near collision as a result of driver distraction.

A new study from ARRB has revealed some eye-opening statistics related to driver distraction on Australian roads.

The study of more than 1000 Australians found that two in five have had a collision or near collision as a result of driver distraction. Additionally, 45% of those individuals said their mind was elsewhere due to being tired, stressed, angry or sad.

According to the findings, half of Australians (49%) have driven somewhere and not been able to remember all or part of the journey (in autopilot as its colloquially known). One in 20 people cannot recall their entire journey every time they drive as a result of their mind being elsewhere.

ARRB Chief Scientist for Human Factors, Professor Mike Regan, said the survey findings are supported by an additional academic research report from ARRB and highlight the havoc driver distraction is causing on our roads.

“Our academic research shows Australians are largely aware of the impact driver headspace has on our ability to drive safely, with close to 60% acknowledging this is the case.

“Our lack of attention on the roads is compounded by our persistence in multi-tasking whilst driving, cognitively and visually impairing drivers,” Prof Regan said.

“We all lead busy lives with both personal and work stresses that crave our attention. Getting behind the wheel if you’re in a distracted state, and especially if in an emotional state, can be very dangerous – the problem is that we can’t enforce alertness and concentration in the same way we can police seatbelts, drink driving and speeding.”

Three in five Australians admit to having multi-tasked while driving, and a quarter of survey respondents compensate by driving more slowly (26%) and one in five consciously give themselves more distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them (22%).

“It’s not uncommon to pass a slow moving vehicle on the highway only to notice they are using their phone, in deep conversation with passengers or eating on the go. We implore all drivers to focus their attention on driving to ensure the safety of not just themselves, but other road users. Distracted drivers are a danger to themselves, and to others.”

“What we found most astounding is that 6% of survey respondents claim they don’t feel the need to adjust their driving behaviour when multi-tasking at all which is a figure that we need to work really hard to change,” he said.

“The simple message to drivers is: keep your eyes on the road, always give yourself a greater margin for error when you are distracted while driving, even when talking on the phone, and if you’re in a highly emotional state, avoid driving altogether or ask someone else to drive.”


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