Drive, don’t talk

Distracted driving remains a problem in South Africa, and will continue to remain so into the future unless drastic action is taken. And, while stricter law enforcement is needed, it’s the attitude of motorists which needs the biggest change.

Various studies throughout the world have shown that when drivers are distracted, their ability to operate a vehicle properly is impaired.

But the problem is not purely with the cracking down on offenders who disobey regulations, specifically those who use electronic devices, or indeed other devices, when driving. Motorists who use these devices while behind the wheel need to change their attitudes, and take responsibility for their actions.

A driver talking on a cellphone, or texting while driving, needs to realise that their actions are not only irresponsible but also put the lives of other, law-abiding citizens in jeopardy. They can cause a crash that injures, or worse, kills, other people through their own reckless behaviour.

No-one is immune to the dangers of being distracted.

Although there are no current local statistics on how distracted driving causes crashes, there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to suggest this number is large enough to warrant urgent attention.

While there are many different distractions that constitute distracted driving, the following are among the most prevalent:

  • Talking on cellphones, or texting while driving,

  • Eating while driving,

  • Putting on ties or other clothing while driving, or changing clothes when driving,

  • Applying make-up while driving,

  • Looking to the backseat to engage passengers, especially children,

  • Setting GPS devices while moving, and,

  • Searching for items in various areas of the car while driving

Drivers must obey the laws, and above all, to be sensible when driving.

Put your cellphone in the boot of your car before driving off, and put on your tie or make-up before you get going. If you use a GPS device, set the destination before embarking on your journey. Remember that if you don’t focus on the road, there is a 100 percent likelihood that you will not avoid a crash while you are distracted.