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Distracted driving a leading cause of car accidents in South Africa

Don't become a statistic on the roads this Distracted Driving Month

Texting while driving increases the likelihood of having an accident by 23 times; dialling a number makes drivers six times more prone to having a crash, while children are 12 times more distracting to drivers than talking on a cellphone.

These are just some of the revelations made by Wynand van Vuuren, client experience manager at King Price Insurance as we observe Distracted Driving Month this April.

Eight out of every 10 accidents (80%) that occur on South Africa’s roads can be attributed to human error.

Among these errors, distracted driving has emerged as a leading cause, with a variety of distractions to blame.

These include tending to the needs of small children – a leading cause of distracted driving – and talking on cellphones while driving. “As parents, the safety of our children is paramount.

However, despite our best intentions, having small children in the car can significantly increase the risk of distracted driving,” he said.

Van Vuuren said during an average 16 minute car trip, parents are distracted by their children for more than 20% of the time.

Taking the associated lack of sleep into account and it’s little wonder that 10% of new moms have had an accident while driving with their babies.

Talking on mobile phones while driving may be illegal, but many motorists still do it.

Van Vuuren referenced a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study revealing the following findings:

• Texting while driving increases the likelihood of an accident by 23 times
• Dialling a number makes drivers six times more prone to having an accident
• The reaction times of texting drivers are slower (35%) than that of drunk drivers (12%)
• The five seconds it takes to read a WhatsApp message, driving at 90km/h, is the equivalent of driving the length of a rugby field with your eyes closed.

Van Vuuren offers the following tips for driving with small children in the car:

1. Plan ahead: Ensure everything your child may need is easily accessible and within reach to minimise the need to divert your attention from the road.
2. Put their needs on hold: If possible, wait until you reach your destination to address your child’s needs, prioritising safety over immediate gratification.
3. Pull over: Only pull over when absolutely necessary and in a safe location, such as a rest stop or parking lot, to avoid unnecessary risks.
4. Educate your children on car safety: Teach your children about the importance of behaving in the car, to ensure the safety of everyone on board.
5. Keep your eyes on the road: Set a good example for your children by avoiding distractions and focusing on safe driving habits.


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