April is the international month of awareness for driving while distracted (DWD). The importance of this month cannot be understated with statistics that reveal how easily people will drive distracted and with the lack of priority placed on reducing it. Far too many drivers are unaware that DWD is just as serious an offence as what driving under the influence is.

The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says drivers need to consider the research completed on DWD not as only numbers on a page. “Think of each person that has lost a life while driving distracted as living, human being, with family, friends and colleagues, whose loss will irrevocably change lives.

“Think of every person injured in one of these crashes. Their ability to earn an income can be impacted to the degree that the remainder of their lives they rely on another individual to support them and no longer have the ability to support their own family. Once each number is given a face, the magnitude of DWD will propel greater motivation to change,” says Herbert.

With this in mind, the following statistics will have a significantly higher impact on those that still choose to drive distracted:

  • It is estimated 25% of crashes in South Africa are due to using cellphones while driving.

(One major insurer indicates that their data shows this to be in the region of 60%)

  • In a South African study, 25% of drivers admit to DWD.
  • Of these individuals, 52% fiddle with the radio.
  • Another 32% eat, drink and drive.
  • While 22% admit to using their phones.
  • 25% of drivers brake harshly due to DWD.
  • A driver is eight times more likely to crash when reaching for an object.
  • An extra passenger can double the chance of having an accident – age dependant.
  • Additionally, when a driver looks at their phone their attention is removed from the road for approximately five seconds (total distracted time – not just the time the eyes are off the road) – possibly longer.

While raising awareness and months like April are vital in effecting tangible change, more needs to be done. “A driver may know that a crash can occur in less time than it takes to look at your phone, most will take the chance, nonetheless. It is for this very pressing reason, that MasterDrive investigated additional ways to curb this dangerous practice, in form of technological intervention.

“MasterDrive partnered with providers of technology-based systems in the pursuit of this. With apps installed on smartphones, drivers have the temptation removed all together. Yet, it still acknowledges that certain communication may be urgent and allows for this to still be accessed in a safe manner.”

April is an important month if one considers how the faces of all the lives lost due to DWD grows each year. “It is also very difficult to police and penalise, and even accurately measure how many crashes or fatalities result from DWD. Thus, MasterDrive strongly encourages every driver to take this threat seriously,” says Herbert.

STORY COURTESY OF MASTERDRIVE

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