As part of its commitment to understand and address driver safety, Goodyear probed the road behaviour of 6 400 drivers under the age of 25. The survey covered 16 markets (South Africa plus 15 European countries) and was designed to get inside the brain of the young driver and provide some interesting insights into the online generation on the road.
HANDS ON THE WHEEL, EYES ON THE PHONE
The poll revealed how, despite the fact that it is illegal in most countries, youngsters phone, text and surf the web while they are driving, with South Africans emerging amongst the top users of phones without headsets (61% vs global 44%), along with Swedes and Russians. Young drivers in the UK (15%), Spain (26%) and the Netherlands (27%) are the least likely to use their phones without headsets, perhaps proving that stricter enforcement of the law can be effective. South Africans are similarly far more likely to use their smart phones to send text messages, go online, visit social networks, send or read emails or use messaging services (65% vs global 41% average) – all actions even more dangerous than phoning on the road,.
“Today’s young drivers have too many distractions at their fingertips. We used our third annual Road Safety Survey to probe precisely how these gadgets are impacting driver safety,” explained Lize Hayward, Goodyear South Africa Group Brand Communications Manager. “Our study was specifically designed to explore a wide range of factors from driver training through to general concerns amongst young drivers. Understanding driver behaviour assists Goodyear in its commitment to safety and helping people feel good on the road.”
While new technology undoubtedly provides a particular danger, Goodyear’s survey revealed that more traditional multi-tasking activities also continue to distract young drivers, with South Africans amongst the most easily misled. Some of the most common behaviours include: drinking (75% vs global average 58%), eating (71% vs global average 45%), looking at a map, changing GPS settings, shaving, putting on make-up, styling hair and even kissing (33%).
Contrary to popular belief, the brain is not capable of multi-tasking, but only of tasking sequentially, switching quickly from one task to another. The frontal lobe area of the brain, associated with attention and concentration, can all too easily become overwhelmed as drivers undertake numerous actions at once, seriously compromising their safety and that of other road users. The distraction caused by carrying out other tasks while driving is known by experts as ‘inattention blindness’, which causes us to look at objects but simply not see them when we are talking on the phone.
Scientists who have studied people attempting to multi-task at the wheel observe that they acquire a false confidence and believe that they can complete a series of tasks while also driving. The problems occur when something untoward happens and they need to react in a split-second by quickly reducing speed or changing lanes. Only then does it become apparent that their judgement is impaired.
“Today’s world clearly offers far too many distractions for young drivers and this will significantly inhibit their ability to concentrate at the wheel. Driving requires 100% of our concentration and attention and youngsters need to put phones and other distractions to one side when they get behind the wheel of a car,” said Hayward.
“Goodyear has recognised that distracted driving is a growing problem and works with the European Driving Schools Association (EFA) in Europe, the Volkswagen Driving Academy in South Africa and the
Goodyear 4×4 Academy in the Western Cape, to provide young people with more training on driving safely and responsibly, as well as ensuring optimal knowledge and maintenance of their cars and tyres, in order to feel good on the road again.”