Driven to distraction

Recent research has revealed that more than half (51%) of all drivers find the dangerous actions of other motorists, such as poor overtaking and tailgating, to be a serious distraction.

The dangers of in-car distractions have been much publicised in recent years, with the police cracking down on drivers not giving their full attention to the road. However, it is often overlooked that external distractions can be just as dangerous.

The research, conducted by OSV Ltd, to mark National Road Safety Week (20-26 November), has broken down the top external attention grabbers for drivers.

While dangerous behaviour understandably takes the top spot, it seems that 45% of car drivers find cyclists and motorcyclists off-putting, while a further 41% said that emergency vehicles – and trying to find out where the sirens are coming from so that they can take evasive action – also made it difficult for them to concentrate on the road.

The survey also found that 38% of people find people watching and pedestrians distracting, whilst other distractions include children (36%), animals (32%), car lights (21%) and accidents (18%).

With distraction being one of the greatest causes of driving accidents, these figures are a real cause for concern.

OSV joint company director, Debbie Kirkley, comments, ‘This sort of research usually looks at in-car distractions, and now we hopefully all know and understand the dangers of using our mobile phones behind the wheel, or fiddling with the radio when in motion, but it’s easy to forget that external happenings can catch – and hold for too long – our attention too.

‘Anything that takes our eyes or mind off the road and the task in hand is a potential hazard to drivers and pedestrians, and we perhaps need to be more aware of this. Looking for road signs can be as dangerous as paying too much attention to a sat nav, and of course, if you’re worried that a child is going to step out in front of you, your attention is going to be drawn there, to the detriment of your other surroundings.

‘Careful driving is, ultimately, the responsibility of the individual, but we should all start showing a little more consideration for drivers and try to reduce potential distractions. After all, if someone is distracted from driving safely it puts everyone else in the vicinity at risk too.’