According to research by Monash University’s Accident Research Centre, Australian motorists are distracted every 96 seconds by things other than driving.
Motorists are increasing their risk of crashing almost tenfold the study found because they are not fully concentrating on the road while driving. Drivers are becoming increasingly engaged in other activities, the researchers from universities in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane found.
Researchers examined 117 drivers from NSW and Victoria over 4 months by placing four cameras inside their cars and observing them behind the wheel.
“We have very little data on how drivers behave out on the roads so we thought it was important to understand their behaviour during this time,” Dr Young said.
We already know how dangerous distracted driving is but researchers found that 23 per cent of all road incidents were caused by people checking their phones or talking on the phone.
During the study, of the 185 trips examined, more than 1600 distractions were observed and a safety-related incident occurred in 6 per cent of these.
The study also found that almost half of driver’s total driving time was spent being distracted or performing secondary tasks to driving.
The study also found more disturbing facts that 20 per cent of drivers did several other activities while driving including eating while talking on the phone, adjusting the radio while on the phone etc. which all increase the risk of crashing drastically.
One of the surprising finds of the study is that people are mostly distracted by adjusting buttons on the centre console or playing with their seatbelts. These distractions took only 5 seconds or less but accounted for 35% of all distractions.
Researchers also found that drivers looked at their phones regularly and spoke on their phones which accounts for 23% of all unsafe driving behaviour or conflict with other motorists.
The study revealed that eating and drinking while driving increases your risk of crashing because it distracts you for the longest period of time.
Perhaps one of the more surprising finds of the study was that people grooming themselves while driving is a major distraction.
“Personal grooming was a big one. That involves people doing things like brushing their hair, brushing their teeth or putting on make-up,”
“We found that eating and drinking while driving accounted for about 3 per cent of all extra tasks they were doing,” she said.
“Eating and drinking are long activities and drivers tend to complete these in the space of several minutes which means they’re exposed to danger for longer as well.”
Researchers also found that 7% of distractions happened when people were physically reaching for things like, food, sunglasses and bags in the car.