Wed | Dec 11, 2019

Distraction can lead to destruction

Published:Sunday | November 3, 2019 | 12:21 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Automotives Writer

Just Like oil and water do not mix, distractions and driving should never be mixed on our roadways. Treat your vehicle like a beast of burden, and it will treat you like a wagon master. Abuse it, and it will lash back at you like a wild animal. Fear the car, and it will overwhelm you. Focus intently and read the road ahead, and the motor vehicle will obey you like a disciplined child. It is quite easy to be distracted while driving on our busy streets – whether uptown, downtown, around town or out of town.

Distractions while driving can range from talking on the cell phone and thinking of things other than driving, whether something exciting, sad, hilarious or painful, to distractors hanging in the vehicle, environmental and vehicular factors, and beautiful ladies in miniskirts.

According to the Grolier Webster International dictionary, distraction is “the act of distracting; the state of being distracted; confusion from multiplicity of objects crowding the mind and easily attentive in different ways”. It went on to further explain that distraction can be “perturbation or agony of mind as from pain, or grief; anything giving the mind a new and more pleasant occupation, a diversion”.

Driving a motor vehicle is, in itself, demanding because the driver is performing the task of driving and the duties of a professional at the same time.

Dr Valrie Freckleton, consultant psychologist, says that situations have shown that animals respond aggressively to overcrowding.

“They react if their very existence is threatened.” According to Freckleton, excessive vehicular traffic can have this effect on some drivers. It must be noted that a professional driver in a motor car for six hours a day has greater potential for being involved in an accident than the average motoring public.

Therefore, there are psychological and physiological factors that can increase the potential for a collision.

Some PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS to be aware of:

1. The aggressive nature of some drivers spilling over into the driving task.

2. The driver having attitudes of impatience, self-righteous, ego, and preoccupation.

3. The driver being bored after spending a full day behind the steering wheel.

4. Overconfidence in one’s driving ability or in the handling capabilities of a protective driving vehicle.

5. The driver not being prepared for the lack of reaction or overreaction from other motorists.

6. The effects of emotions after having dealt with a work-related duty; the effects of emotions resulting from a personal situation.

Some Physiological Factors to take note of:

1. The consumption of drugs and alcohol can have a deteriorating effect on a driver’s decision-making skills.

- “It is important that drivers desist from using alcohol or any drug which has the potential to impair that driver’s judgement,” says Dr Charlie Roberts of Clinic of Sports Medicine and physical Therapy.

- “Also be responsible with the use of the cell phone; if a motorist needs to respond to a call, simply pull over to a safe place and deal with that call,” Roberts adds.

- “Disregard text messages while driving, pay attention to your mirrors, look out for all pedestrians because there are persons who will cross the street in front of the vehicle while the driver gets the green light,” advises Inspector M. Anderson of the Cross Roads police.

2. Fatigue can be a result of a driver being on a rotating shift when his biological clock is saying that it is time to sleep or take a nap.

3. One may be distracted from using protective driving techniques.

4. Driving into situations at a high speed puts greater demand on the driver’s skills.

n “As drivers, we ought to discipline ourselves, be focused as we drive on the roads, and maintain strong moral principles.” says Robert Thompson, suffrage bishop of Kingston.

- “I do not take my eyes off the road,” says Mackeisha Johnson, a former trainee of the Advanced Driver Training Centre. “I put into practice what I have been taught during my training.” According to Johnson, she reads the road ahead, she remains focused, however tempting it is to do otherwise, and she observes at a glance what is happening around her.

“I am cognisant of the fact that one look away could mean a difference between a slip of the cup and the lip.”

Freckleton offers some reminders to motorists:

A. Relax before a long or short trip.

B. Get yourself in the proper frame of mind for driving – do not carry undue stress from home on to the road.

C. Be alert, stay focused, and read the road from all angles.

D. Do not drive if you are angry, hungry, in pain, or suffering from any kind of discomfort.

E. Remain calm amidst the rigours of the roads.

F. Never drink and drive; make a conscious effort to drive safely.

G. Be kind, loving, and peaceful with and among other road users.