On average 40 people die and 25 are permanently disabled on our roads daily. The AA will be hosting a demonstration of the dangers of distracted driving during September as part of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety campaign. The goals of the Decade of Action are to reduce crashes, injury and death by 50% by 2020.
The causes for these crashes are varied however, even though there is very little statistical data pointing at distracted driving as a significant cause of crashes in South Africa, international experience and research is showing a disturbing correlation between distracted driving and injury.
The AAs own research into Distracted Driving prevalence accurately mirrors the findings of the World Health Organisation for developing countries, and the occurrence of motorists using their cell phones while driving seems to be growing. During a typical morning traffic peak (07:00 08:30), we found that 7.2% of the 2500 drivers observed were holding and using their mobile phones while driving. Hands free usage was not counted in the survey.
The greatest issue with mobile phone use while driving is the lack of capacity of the human brain to react to external stimuli, assimilate information and decide on appropriate action while concentrating on something else a conversation in this case. Estimates indicate that drivers using cell phones look but fail to see up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment. What this means in effect is that while we are talking / texting on the phone, vital road information is not being processed by the brain resulting in decisions being made with incomplete information quite often with disastrous consequences.
Studies have shown that drivers talking on cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash compared to drivers who are not. When one considers that last year 1 million crashes were reported to the SAP involving almost 1.8 million vehicles, why would you want to increase your already high crash risk?