Be mindful of distracted driving

April 12, 2023
Employment Equity signed into law
April 13, 2023
April 12, 2023
Employment Equity signed into law
April 13, 2023

Be mindful of distracted driving

By Nelisiwe Ndlovu

Many drivers think nothing of reading and responding to texts quickly while the car is running.
As a mother, I have pulled my fighting children apart, while driving.
But it’s not just checking messages that is the problem. Talking on the phone, applying makeup,
eating and drinking, adjusting the radio, or using the navigation system while the car is moving all
significantly raise your risk of having an accident.
In fact, distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents on South Africa’s roads, warns
King Price’s client experience partner, Wynand van Vuuren.

“Distracted driving isn’t just about using your phone while driving. Anything that takes your eyes off
the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off the task at hand, could endanger you, your
passengers and other road users,” says Van Vuuren.

Even seemingly harmless behaviour like quickly reading a WhatsApp message can lead to disaster. It
takes 5 seconds to read an average WhatsApp message. If you’re driving at 90km/h, that’s like
driving the length of a rugby field with your eyes closed.

A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study in the United States found that texting while driving
raises your chance of having an accident by 23 times. Simply dialling a number makes you 6 times
more likely to have an accident. Tests show the reaction times of a texting driver are slower (35%)
than that of drunk drivers (12%).
According to the International Transport Forum’s (ITF) Road Safety Annual Report, car accidents cost
the South African economy R143 billion in 2018. In that year, the country saw 22.4 traffic deaths per
100 000 inhabitants.

In 2022, 162 people died on South Africa’s roads over Easter, with drunk driving, speeding, driving
while tired or distracted, and pedestrian accidents playing a major role in the death rate. Research
suggests that human error accounts for 8 out of every 10 road accidents in South Africa.

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