While San Diego drivers should always devote their full attention to the
road, not all distractions are created equal. A recent study by the AAA
Foundation for Traffic Safety examined what types of activities pose the
greatest risk behind the wheel.
AAA study specifically looked at “mental distraction” or the tendency
for our minds to wander from the task at hand. Researchers had drivers
complete eight different tasks in three different scenarios: not driving,
driving behind a simulator, and driving on a residential streets. During
each scenario, the researchers assessed the drivers’ mental workload,
reaction time, and accuracy. Here’s what they found:
Listening to the radio: Simply listening to the radio without changing the station posed a minimal
Listening to a recorded book: While slightly higher than listening to the radio, listening to a book
on tape also resulted in minimal distraction.
Talking to a passenger: Even without turning their heads to talk to passengers, engaging in conversation
was still moderately distracting for drivers.
Cell phone use: Talking on a cell phone, whether handheld or hands free, creates a moderate
risk of distraction.
Speech to text: Systems that allow drivers to send texts and emails using speech are
significantly distracting and pose the highest risk of distraction.
In 2011 alone, over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving crashes.
Whether it is texting behind the wheel or programming a GPS device, we
encourage drivers to take steps to limit all activities that can lead
to unsafe driving.