What you never knew about texting and driving

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Everyone can relate with that feeling when you hear your phone ring and pick it up only to realize it is your longtime friend or your workmate calling to inform you of the office rumour that you might be called by the boss to be informed of your promotion.  The feeling is so good isn’t it?

Now take a scenario that you have received a text informing you that your boss has been caught up in a scandalous situation and his business has been closed down. Or perhaps God forbid a stranger has texted you that your hubby was involved in a serious accident and has been rushed to hospital.

That’s heart breaking! No matter how sweet or sad the message you receive is,if you do it behind the wheel, then you are at risk of causing a fatal accident. It is just a matter of seconds…

Experts at Ford Motor Company say that every time you pick up your phone while driving,you see and concentrate less.You stop looking around at your environment – in front, behind, to the right and left. Your field of vision shrinks. You don’t even see what’s in front of you.

Research also confirms that the brain has difficulty processing two tasks simultaneously. It can switch between the tasks but will perform each more slowly. As much as many people think they can do two things at once – like talking or texting on the phone while driving – it simply is impossible to concentrate fully on both.

“In my experience of training hundreds of drivers, I’d say that even normal, everyday driving uses around 85% of your mental load. Sending one text or selfie, and even talking with a passenger, can overload the brain while driving – increasing the risk of an accident,” Derek Kirkby, training director for Ford’s global driving skills for life (DSFL) programme in South Africa noted.

Further study has also shown that distracted driving cuts a driver’s field of vision by as much as 50%. This means that drivers don’t ‘see’ important objects which are right in front of them, for example red lights, pedestrians and obstacles in the road hence putting everyone at risk.

Experts have reported that smartphones are very destructive and in essence have tempted many drivers to take their eyes off the road and at times even their hands off the wheel. It is estimated that 2 seconds of withdrawing eyes from the road can amount to distracted driving.

Experts observe that within this short span of time, road conditions would have completely changed. Talking on the phone or worse still texting while driving has been attributed to a large percentage of most accidents caused by distracted driving.

With many countries trying to combat such road accidents; laws have been made to govern road users especially drivers. In Kenya, Traffic Rule 59A (1) prohibits drivers from using their cell phones while driving and such an offence attracts a fine of Ksh 2,000.

In South Africa, Regulation 308A stipulates that motorists may not drive on a public road while holding a mobile phone or any other communication device in one or both hands or with any other part of the body. Motorists have allegedly been fined up to R750 for making use of their cell phone while driving.

As much as it is vital to communicate, it is prudent to beware of making any conversations while on the steering wheel.