According to a new study, talking on the phone, being tired or eating are not nearly as dangerous behind the steering wheel as is being sad or angry.
A lot of highways now display signs drivers to pull over if they feel tired, but this new study conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute suggests that it’s even more important to be in a healthy emotional state for safe driving.
It turns out that driving angry increases the risk of an accident tenfold; in comparison, extreme fatigue increases the odds of a crash three times, while talking on the phone only doubles the fatidic chances.
Leading study author Dr. Tom Dingus, the director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, said this is the first piece of research to determine how different factors contribute to car crashes.
It was surprising to discover that talking on the phone was no more distracting for drivers than fiddling with the air conditioning or the radio.
Another unexpected statistic found that interacting with a child in the back is not at all distracting – in fact, it actually lowers the chance of crashing the car, having a surprising “protective effect” on the driver’s concentration.
In the same vein, eating food behind the wheel and applying make-up were also found not to cause significant distractions.
For the study, researchers investigated the factors that distract drivers the most with the help of in-car video cameras. More than 3,500 people in the US were part of the study, and the information they provided was then compared with crash data.
Trying to reach for an object located in the car was found to increase the risk of a crash by nine times, while talking on the mobile phone was only six times. Even though dialing a number raised the odd of an accident by over 12 times, that’s not by far at the top of the list.
As expected, consuming drinks or drugs represented the highest risk factor for crashes, raising the accident odds more than 35 times.
Browsing on Facebook and texting were still a big problem (6 times higher the risk), which has increased the crashes in the US in recent years singlehandedly. Dancing to music in the car or chatting with a passenger had no impact, on the other hand.
A recent poll revealed that participants saw other drivers using their mobile phones on nearly every journey. Psychologists say that our psyche has trained itself to multi-task all the time, which means that when we’re driving, we have a hard time being focused only on the task at hand.
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