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Distractions a danger on the road

Released at: 09:15, 18/12/2019

Distractions a danger on the road

Photo: Minh Quang

Vietnam issues regulations to tackle the various distractions drivers face while behind the wheel.

by Jessica Nguyen

The government has issued regulations to prevent distractions when commuting, one of which may be a ban on the use of phones when driving motor cars. Distracted driving, however, remains quite common and is becoming an increasingly serious problem in Vietnam.

A Ford Vietnam study notes three types of distractions that usually occur: mental distraction, visual distraction, and manual distraction.

Mental distraction can be any activity takes the driver’s mind off the road, from talking with passengers to getting caught lost in their thoughts while listening to their favorite song on the radio.

Visual distraction occurs when the driver is looking at anything other than the road in front of them. This could include looking at their phone, checking on their kids, or staring at something that’s happening outside of the vehicle as they drive by.

Manual distraction, meanwhile, happens when the driver takes one or both hands off the wheel for any reason. Examples include putting on makeup, adjusting the GPS, or reaching for something.

When it comes to distracted driving, texting usually gets the most attention because it combines all three types of distraction, making it particularly dangerous. And while texting while driving can more than double the chance of being in an accident, it’s not even the most common or dangerous form of distracted driving.

As the report notes, there are certain kinds of mental distractions that can result in wrong decisions being made and accidents. Even if drivers are vigilant and never use their phone while driving, they’re probably still guilty of distracted driving, whether they know it or not. There are several everyday actions people do while driving that they probably don’t realize are distractions.

Daydreaming is actually the most common form of distraction, and also one of the most dangerous. In the US, a study found that of all the road accidents attributed to distracted driving, 62 per cent were caused by daydreaming - five times more than those caused by talking or texting on a phone.

When someone eats or drinks while they are driving, they are combining all of the different types of distractions in one activity and increasing their chances of being in an accident by up to 80 per cent. With the added chance of spilling a hot drink of themselves while driving, it’s just not worth the risk.

Getting behind the wheel of a car in an emotionally agitated states such as being angry or sad can increase the chance of being in an accident by nearly ten times. In places like Manila in the Philippines, where the tyranny of traffic combines with hot and humid weather, it’s easy to see how emotions can suddenly flare under the right circumstances.

“The real tragedy is that nearly every accident caused by distracted driving was avoidable and could have been prevented,” said one Ford expert. “Only by creating awareness about the different forms of distracted driving and the hidden dangers posed by them can we expect people to start changing their behavior.”

In Vietnam, over the last eleven years, through the “Driving Skills for Life Program”, Ford has provided free driving training courses to nearly 18,000 drivers in 15 cities and provinces. These courses help train and educate drivers about the dangers of distractions and ways to avoid them. Through this effort, the company contributes to creating a safer transportation environment for Vietnamese.

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