Road Safety News
 

Survey highlights lack of concentration among drivers

Tuesday 11th February 2014

A poll of nearly 1,500 drivers conducted on behalf of the IAM suggests that younger drivers are the group most likely not to be concentrating while driving.

Overall, the poll of nearly 1,500 drivers suggests that only 60% of drivers are concentrating when they are behind the wheel.

Among respondents aged 18-24 years, the worst performing group, the figure fell to 50%, followed closely by those aged 24-34 years (47%).

The survey suggests that older drivers are much less likely to lose concentration while driving. 73% of respondents aged over 65 years said they concentrate when driving all of the time, while a further 26% said that they concentrate most of the time.

The most common reasons given for not concentrating were daydreaming (24%), stress (22%), thinking about what you will be doing when you arrive, and thinking about family, friends and personal relationships (both 21%).

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “Not concentrating is a key cause of crashes yet it is not borne out in statistics because drivers rarely admit to it in police reports or on insurance forms.

“These results reconfirm stereotypes surrounding younger drivers and the ease with which they can be distracted from staying safe. The key is to build up as wide a range of experiences as possible as you learn and to look upon your driving as a skill that needs continuous improvement.”

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Wonder where Mr Best gets the idea that not concentrating is a key cause of crashes?

Driving is not a single task, but comprises at least four distinct tasks, prediction, navigation, control and communication of intent, so the idea that we can concentrate on all four at once is simply not valid. Our brains are wired so that regularly performed tasks are left to the fast and automatic parts of the brain so that's why we can walk without thinking about walking and how to drive without thinking how to drive. A nice shiny new learner driver may well be concentrating on the driving tasks for 100% of the time, but even the most able can maintain this level of effort for a relatively short time before they collapse in a sweaty heap.

The key to safe driving is therefore the ability to NOT concentrate on driving, but on an ability to monitor the results of the brain's automatic activity.

When Mr Best says that "the key is to build up as wide a range of experiences as possible as you learn and to look upon your driving as a skill that needs continuous improvement” he is talking a great deal of sense because that IS the key to reducing road accidents.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

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