Taking that moment to eat a sandwich while driving could very well mean that you end up causing an accident – and the chances double if you are a man, apparently.
Recent research by an insurer in the UK has found that men are twice as likely to crash because of distractions.
“More than one in 10 men who had an accident admitted it happened after he became distracted at the wheel,” remarks Robyn Farrell, managing director of 1st for Women Insurance Brokers. She adds: “This is double the number of women who admit to suffering the same consequences.”
One-third of men said they experienced near misses after losing their concentration, but only one fifth of women said the same.
Male respondents acknowledged that the most common distraction for them was adjusting the car radio, with more than three out of every four men admitting to taking their eyes off the road when doing so.
While we can all probably agree that certain activities undertaken while driving are not going to end well, such as reading the newspaper or sending a SMS, there are some surprising causes of near misses.
“In a small survey undertaken in this country, people admitted that they knew of some individuals who had gone as far as shaving while driving, changing clothing and even chopping up fruit for breakfast,” Farrell says.
What distracts people when driving?
Two-thirds of the men surveyed said they became distracted by having a soft drink or eating while driving. Half said they lost concentration when handling a CD.
In a somewhat surprising finding, only around one quarter of men admitted to talking on a cellphone while driving, as well as sending a SMS and very nearly all the men surveyed admitted that this was dangerous.
Other major distractions include reading a map and/or using a satellite navigation system for directions; kissing; looking for items that have dropped to the floor; applying make-up; doing paperwork; swatting insects and attending to unhappy children.
Women were half as likely to become distracted by most of these things.
Farrell says that it is evident that motorists understand that their behavior is risky, but as many as 75% of them carry on taking their eyes off the road while driving.
“There is nothing more important than keeping your eyes on the road while driving. There is a lot happening on the roads, so look well ahead to spot potential dangers, and be ready to react quickly.
“Don’t tailgate fellow motorists as any unforeseen event would mean that you may very well drive into the back of someone else. Do not be tempted to engage in distracting behaviour when stuck in a traffic jam. Try to avoid becoming frustrated, as this usually leads to reckless driving and more accidents, as a result,” says Farrell.
Farrell concludes: “The truth is that our busy lives can result in us driving when tired, therefore leaving us prone to lapses in concentration. The three best things you can do for yourself when driving is to make sure you have had enough sleep, remain aware of the dangers posed by becoming distracted by items in your vehicle, and make sure that your vehicle insurance is up to date.”