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Most drivers are aware of the risks posed by the consumption of alcohol or drugs when it comes to driving, although there are still those who ignore the factors, but many drivers fail to associate the risks caused by distracted driving, which is one of the “Fatal 4” in terms of road traffic incidents, and in Spain is the primary cause of more than 30% of incidents.

It is very important to be aware of and avoid behaviours that cause distractions behind the wheel. The task of driving implies that the driver organises and coordinates all the information, the stimuli associated with driving, and gives the task the full attention it deserves. Driving requires an adequate level of selective, sustained attention.

What kinds of distractions are there?

While we drive there can be many distractions that make us lose attention, and although this is not an exhaustive list, it includes the radio, whether adjusting it, or simply absorbed by the music. No doubt you have witnessed or experienced a situation where you are a little unsure of your location and you turn the radio down so you can concentrate more, thus subliminally proving the point.

The company in the vehicle can be a distraction, talking or interacting with your passengers. GPS management, although you must stop the vehicle if you need to reprogram your device. Mobile phones, eating or drinking, smoking, applying make-up, reading behind the wheel, looking for something in the car, and anything that diverts our attention from the primary role of driving.

Consequences of distractions

A distraction causes us to stop paying attention to the road. That interval that we are not aware of, even if it is tenths of a second, can be enough to cause an incident: Going off the road, not seeing danger or not giving us time to brake in the event of an unforeseen event.

The first effect of speed and distractions on driving is the increase in stopping distance: The faster you go or allow an oversight, however small, the more space you will cover before your vehicle comes to a complete stop or before that you slow down enough to avoid the incident.

We give you a very simple example: If we dialled a number on our mobile while driving at a speed of 100 km/h, we would travel 140 metres before looking up from our mobile and stepping on the brake, managing to stop completely in about 155 metres. The total distance required to stop at that speed without any distraction is about 28 metres.

You would have travelled uncontrollably about 120 metres, which is the length of a football field. Think of everything that can happen in that space.

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