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The dangers of being distracted when driving

While it is widely acknowledged that testosterone fuelled young men showing off and driving too fast are the biggest cause of accidents on our roads, there is also evidence that their female counterparts are racking up a fair number of crashes themselves. However, these crashes are caused not so much by showing off, as by wanting to show off when they arrive.

According to recent figures in a national newspaper, around half a million young women were involved in “distraction accidents” last year – that is accidents caused by losing concentration on the road ahead through doing things like applying make-up and phone texting at the wheel.

What are the major sources of distraction?

Checking how you look in the mirror and touching up your lipstick or checking your hair may seem innocent enough, but in fact it ticks the box for three of the four main distraction types when driving:

  • Visual distractions (as you look away from the road)

  • Physical distractions (as you take a hand off the wheel)

  • Cognitive distractions (as your mind is on something else other than driving)

  • Auditory distractions – If you have the stereo on at the time, blasting out your favourite tunes, or you are also talking on your phone while driving even via hands-free, you have that distraction.

    The full set makes driving almost impossible to concentrate on.

    The same can be said for any number of other distracting habits at the wheel, including making a phone call while driving (not hands free), checking Facebook and sending a text. Even Sat Nav can be distracting if you try to operate or program it while you are on the move. These, of course are equally likely and equally distracting to both male and female drivers.

    It only takes a second

    When you are driving, it only takes a couple of seconds with your eyes off the road to cause a major accident. Wander out of your lane and you could be facing serious consequences, as your car collides with the oncoming traffic at the combined speed of the two vehicles. The chance of having a head-on collision is frighteningly high if distraction overload gets to you – or another driver.

    It’s never that important

    Driving on busy modern roads is not easy and it demands your full attention at all times. No text message or Facebook status update is worth risking your life for and you can check your hair and/or makeup in the mirror when you’ve stopped and before you get out of the car. Trying to do any of this while you are driving along is a major driving distraction and simply not worth it. Even if you’re running late, it’s better to arrive looking a bit dishevelled than not to arrive at all.

    Of course, not all women drivers are distracted drivers, in the same way that not all lads are speed-freaks, but these incidents only serve to push up car insurance costs for both groups and claim countless young lives every year.

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