HSSE SAFETY BULLETIN: Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving

Even under ideal conditions driving can be a complex and challenging task that requires your full attention.

Distracted driving includes – but is not limited to – texting, emails, or any other tasks covered by Bill 16. Any time you are inattentive or distracted behind the wheel your driving can be effected in three ways: visually, manually and mentally.

Types of Distraction

Visually: When you look away from the road. There is a strong correlation on where we look and where we steer. Signs, scenery and even passengers can distract you visually.

Manually: When you take your hands off the steering wheel. Grabbing for items such as a map, cellphone, coffee or even radio dials can distract you manually.

Mentally: When you are mentally disengaged. A phone conversation can cause you to become distracted mentally. Some research suggests that even after hanging up the phone, your driver performance doesn’t return to normal for several minutes. 

Hands-Free ≠ Risk-Free

Multiple studies have shown that using a cell phone in any mode significantly increases the probability of a collision. There is no evidence that there is a lower risk between hands free and physically holding a cell phone. It may appear to be less risky but it has a similar risk level. Both methods are fully capable of diverting a driver’s attention so much so that a collision may result.

Boredom

We distract ourselves. Boredom can be a form of distracted driving that we often overlook.  We become weary and restless through lack of interest. If you are not sufficiently challenged you will begin to daydream, and find other things to do such as flipping through radio stations, adjusting your seat, making a call, picking up trash, personal grooming, and analyzing current problems in your life. Stay focused by constantly scanning and planning responses to possible hazards, you will remain alert, attentive and prepared.

How to Reduce Distractions While Driving

Situational Awareness is knowing what is going on around you. It is the ongoing deployment of attention around your vehicle to reduce the time and effort needed to respond to hazards and threats. One way to think about it is what do you need to know to avoid being surprised. By being aware of your surroundings you will better negate the effects of distractions to create a safer driving environment. Taking all efforts to avoid Visual, Manual, and Mental distractions will allow you to be the most effective driver you can be.

Additional resources:

https://ama.ab.ca/auto-and-driving/driver-education/drivers-ed-courses/distracted-driver-course/

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