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Study shows drivers underestimate dangers of distractions

Ohio drivers tempted to look at their cell phones when they are behind the wheel should consider how distractions reduce their perception of roadway hazards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that people take their eyes from the road for only two seconds or less. However, when the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety tested distractions in a driving simulator, even two-second glances away from the road increased crash risks.

Eye-tracking equipment within the simulator allowed researchers to assess drivers' reactions and performance when confronted with both hazardous and non-hazardous situations. The results showed that even two-second distractions inside a vehicle reduced drivers' ability to react to things like a car suddenly entering traffic when compared to drivers who were not interrupted by distractions.

After the simulations, drivers filled out self-assessments that asked them how they felt they had performed. Most people gave themselves high scores for reaction ability. When these self-reports were compared to data from the simulations, researchers concluded that people were unaware of critical information missed during distractions. The technical director for Liberty Mutual Risk Control Services suggested that public awareness needed to be increased about distractions while driving because people seemed not to understand the accident risks associated with distractions.

Driving distractions include actions like changing a radio station or texting while driving. Because distractions limit people's ability to react, they contribute to car accidents. A person who injures another person because of a mistake that causes a car accident could be held accountable for medical expenses by the injured person. A person hurt in an accident might choose to speak with an attorney about preparing a personal injury lawsuit. If an accident report shows evidence of a negligent driver, an attorney could file a lawsuit on behalf of a victim.

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