If you've ever had a crash or near miss on the road, chances are driver distraction was involved. We all know the danger of trying to multi-task while driving, using mobile phones, eating, reaching into the glovebox, flicking through tracks on the ipod, or reading a map. But distracted driving is a much broader problem than that.
Loss of attention behind the wheel
Distracted driving extends to any loss of attention behind the wheel. This includes visual distractions on the roadside, such as advertising, or allowing your mind to wander rather than concentrating on the road ahead.
Did you know?
The AA believes that distracted driving is New Zealand's single biggest road safety issue.
No matter how diligent you are, all drivers will have lapses in concentration, especially over longer trips as boredom or drowsiness kicks in. Most of the time we get away with it, but in situations where there's less margin for error, a near miss could just as easily have been a crash.
AA speaking up for motorists
How big the problem is
The AA believes it's the biggest road safety risk - it's just not as widely acknowledged as the more highly publicised dangers of speeding and drink driving.
More education and engineering solutions
There needs to be more education and advertising to raise awareness of distracted driving, including what drivers can do to recognise warning signs and avoid the crash risk.
Engineering improvements to make roads safer and more forgiving of driver mistakes can reduce the consequences of distracted driving, for example rumble strips to give a noisy warning if you drift out of your lane, and median barriers to divide traffic. The AA supports more rumble strips being installed throughout the road network.
Auditing of roads for unnecessary distractions
We'd like the roads audited to assess distraction risk and tighter control over roadside clutter such as advertising.
What AA Members are saying
In the March 2006 AA survey, Members identified distracted driving as their most frequently encountered problem on the road.
In the March 2004 survey, Members chose distracted driving/lapses in concentration as the most common factor (49%) in near misses or crashes they've been involved in. The next most common (39%) was failure to give way.