A motorist drinks coffee and speaks on the cellphone while driving.

Picture: Phill Magakoe
A motorist drinks coffee and speaks on the cellphone while driving. Picture: Phill Magakoe

SA drivers are driven to distraction

Time of article published Nov 13, 2013

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Distracted driving, according to the insurance industry, is defined as driving while engaged in other activities - such as texting, cellphone conversations, eating or personal grooming - that take the driver's attention away from the road.

And, according to the people who have to establish cause and effect - and pay for the damage! - it's one of the main causes of car crashes worldwide. A recent poll by a  South African short-term insurer suggests that a lack of time is the main reason why drivers multi-task behind the wheel.

CONCENTRATING ON EVERYTHING BUT THE ROAD

The survey revealed that personal grooming, eating breakfast, catching up on phone calls, checking social media sites and listening to audio books are among just some of the things South Africans do while driving.

Insurance executive Bradley Du Chenne expressed concern at the number of respondents who will cheerfully admit to sending and reading text messages, replying to e-mails or checking Facebook while driving; some openly admit to making phone calls, even though it's illegal to use a cellphone while driving.

"One poll participant admitted to painting her nails while stuck in traffic, which is extremely worrying", he commented.

The majority say that they regularly eat while driving.

"There are no laws against eating while driving," noted Du Chenne, "but a study conducted in the United States showed that eating while you drive increases the odds of a crash by 80 percent - that's almost double!

"More than that, the survey found that 65 percent of 'near miss' incidents were caused by distracted drivers fussing with food and drinks. Drinking coffee while driving is apparently the most dangerous and distracting thing you can do.

"If you're multi-tasking behind the wheel because of time pressure - leave earlier and plan your route better so that you spend less time behind the wheel; then you'll have more time to eat, talk and e-mail when you get to the office!"

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