Campaign highlights dangers of ‘distraction driving’

12.00 | 29 May 2015 | | 6 comments

North Wales Police force is coming towards the end of a two-week campaign in which officers have been warning motorists of the dangers of being distracted when driving.

As well as imposing penalties on drivers caught using a mobile phone, officers have used the campaign as an opportunity to educate motorists of the wider dangers of ‘distraction driving’.

The force says a motorist is distracted “when they pay attention to a second activity whilst driving, which means they are more likely to fail to spot hazards”. The second activities it identifies include talking on a mobile phone, texting, changing a CD or playing with an MP3 player, using sat nav equipment, or using one or both hands to eat or drink.

Sergeant Alun Davies, from North Wales Police’s Roads Policing Unit, said: “Drivers who divide their attention because they’re on the phone or otherwise distracted are significantly increasing their risk of causing a crash.

“Driving is a highly unpredictable and risky activity, it requires full concentration at all times.

“Along with drink driving, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and driving carelessly, using a mobile phone behind the wheel – whether it be texting, using an app, or making a phone call – is classed as one of the ‘Fatal 5’; the five most common causes of fatal road traffic collisions.

“With the increased use of smart phones we are also seeing drivers being distracted whilst accessing their apps, reading their emails or accessing the internet. Drivers need to be aware that these actions carry the same danger and the same penalty.”

The force has been using social media to highlight the campaign messages using the hash tag #fatal5 and #eyesontheroad


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    I can’t believe that I am writing this but it seems to me that we are on a loser when it comes to controlling drivers needs and distractions whilst driving a motor vehicle or indeed of any road user on the highway. We have reports on pedestrians, cyclists and drivers being distracted by I pods or on phones or playing games, watching films etc. and drivers with all the electronic contraptions splayed all over the windscreen etc. or merely just opening a window or altering the heater. A lot of these distractions are temporary, maybe less than 2 seconds. There is a previous report on this site from the IAM quoting an American study reporting and advocating that they are considering a 2 second rule, supported apparently by the AIM.

    I put my point of view forward with regard to the distance travelled within that time period. However in order to mitigate the increased possibility of an incident occurring perhaps my argument for giving more space is appropriate. With vehicles being driven a greater distance apart, and that means any and all vehicles, cycles included, then that brief moment when some inattention could occur is less likely to create as dangerous a situation. Space may at least mitigate a collision or indeed prevent an incident occurring at all. As I said it may not work in all situations but will in some where vehicles are travelling too close together or perhaps where a pedestrian, being inattentive crosses a road without looking. With increased space the collision rates and casualty rates should drop.

    Bob Craven Lancs….. Space is Safe Campaigner.
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    Distractions like looking for, or at speed cameras perhaps? Accidents and deaths caused by those are a matter of record, as are those due to checking speedometers at the wrong moment.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    Interesting point David and I’m certain you won’t phone or text whilst driving, but I guarantee you will often be distracted by something other than the immediate driving task which will cause a hiatus in your predictive flow. Reach over to adjust the heater controls and that is an immediate sign that a decision has been made on the reliability of the prediction of what will happen next. This will be sufficient to allow for enough time to be taken from the prediction task to attend to the other one.

    There is also the issue of whether our predictions are based on our evaluation of what might possibly happen next or what probably might happen next, in what’s known as the Efficiency/Throughness Trade-Off (ETTO). In a driver with 40 years experience then it is likely that any predictions will be skewed to the probability/Efficiency side of the equation as the probable outcome has been forged in the heat of many millions of encounters with similar situations.

    Sadly it’s not the probable outcomes that get us as we will be ready for them, it’s the possible ones that are the sneaky ones and that will do us the most damage.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
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    I think that it is highly probable that the comments attributed to Sgt Davies have been subject to précis. I think that a lot of driving is indeed predictable, as Duncan states, but even though I have been driving for well over forty years things happen when I have failed to predict them. The reasons why I am able to cope with them is that I am not on the phone, applying make-up, etc., and am leaving a margin for error in terms of my speed and timing.

    Duncan’s assertion about the focus being on the system circumstances that lead to prediction errors which in turn lead to people allowing themselves to be distracted at the ‘wrong’ time does not take us much further down the road to safer driving. What we ought to do is to predict that ‘whack a mole’ incidents will occur, so therefore I will not phone, text, apply make-up, etc., while driving. Any reduction in distraction and a consequent improvement in concentration, renders us better able to cope with the odd incidents we have failed to predict.

    David, Suffolk
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    Sergeant Davis says amongst other things that “Driving is a highly unpredictable activity” yet it is the very predictability of the driving task that makes it even remotely possible. Most drivers for most of the time manage to predict the future state of the situation they find themselves in perfectly well and it is only in a tiny number of cases that they fail in this regard. If as Sgt Davis suggests the roads are equivalent to a giant game of ‘whack a mole’ with things happening utterly at random then even the very best driver might only manage a couple of minutes in such a system before coming completely unstuck. It is the very predictability of the system that allows drivers to think that they can afford to be distracted from it for a moment or two and in most cases they would be right to make such an assumption.

    If the system was ‘whack a mole’ in it’s unpredictability then you can guarantee that nobody within it would allow themselves to be distracted for even the tiniest fraction of a second lest they miss one of the randomly emerging rodents!

    Distraction therefore is the result of system predictability not unpredictability and so the focus should be on the system circumstances that lead to prediction errors which in turn lead to people allowing themselves to be distracted at the ‘wrong’ time.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
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    Perhaps instead of the ‘fatal 5’ we should just make it simpler and have an all-encompassing ‘fatal 2’ i.e. recklessness and carelessness – seems to cover most causes, although having measurable, ‘black or white’ faults/offences, under the umbrella of carelessness/recklesness obviously does make enforcement easier.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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