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The perils of using your phone while driving

Released at: 20:16, 27/11/2018

The perils of using your phone while driving

Photo: Ford Vietnam

Ford releases report on the dangers of being distracted when behind the wheel.

by Jessica Nguyen

“Forty-three per cent of parents in Asia-Pacific admit to having had an accident or a near miss due to being distracted when driving,” according to a report released by Ford Vietnam on November 26, while “more than half of drivers in the region admit to using their phone while driving, even though they are aware of the dangers.”

The report revealed that more than half of all drivers in Asia-Pacific say they use a mobile phone even when “precious cargo” such as a child is onboard. Of those surveyed, mobile phone use topped the list of in-car distractions.

In an effort to raise public awareness over the use of electronics while driving, Ford delivers the message: “Texting while driving is like driving with your eyes closed!”

Every text or selfie that captures your attention limits your awareness while driving, putting you and those around you in unnecessary danger. Even “just one text” can cause an accident.

“You’ve heard it before, but the reality is that every time you pick up your phone while driving, you see less,” the report noted. “You stop looking around at your environment - in front, behind, to the right and to the left. Your field of vision shrinks. You don’t even see what’s in front of you. It’s unfortunate that having a phone while driving can lead to unexpected consequences, as the simultaneous operation of two separate tasks causes the brain to become overloaded.”

The brain can switch between tasks but performs each more slowly. Many people think they can do two things at once - like talking or texting on the phone while driving - but it’s just not possible to concentrate fully on both. Drivers stop monitoring their environment. And new drivers in particular aren’t in the habit of scanning the road for hazards, and with a phone in hand it’s even more dangerous.

Mr. Matt Gerlach is one of Ford’s most advanced driving instructors and has spent the past ten years training engineers to become expert drivers at Ford’s testing center in Australia.

“In my experience of training hundreds of drivers, I’d say that even normal, everyday driving uses around 85 per cent of your mental load,” he said. “When you’re using 85 per cent of your brainpower to drive, your mind isn’t capable of doing much else, regardless of whether you’re a professional or new to the road.”

Distractions while driving include visual, like looking at a phone, causing drivers to take their eyes off the road, auditory, such as loud music, causing drivers to miss important sounds, manual, such as eating, causing drivers to take one or more hands off the wheel, and cognitive, like tiredness, causing diminished concentration.

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