Please don't drive while distracted. Huh?

Eyes and mind on the job - that's the way to drive responsibly

Vision is absolutely critical to driving – and yet modern cars, and modern technology often conspire to distract us from the core business of keeping our eyes ‘out there’, on the road. Looking at some engaging piece of technology or, let’s be frank, your girlfriend’s legs (or your boyfriend’s) while the car is moving approximates driving blind for the length of time your eyes are off the road.

The list of potential distractions is extensive. There’s the ubiquitous mobile phone – which these days is also a music player, a camera, a video player, a web browser and e-mail platform. There are also iPods, satellite navigation devices and other systems within the car vying for your attention. Then there are other people in the car, and the old favourites like eating, drinking and even doing your makeup on the way to work (if you’re a chick … hopefully).

Distractions are not all hi-tech. If you’re an old-fashioned driver you might still have a street directory upside-down on your knees…

The only practise that works here is discipline. Don’t answer the damn phone if you’re driving. Don’t send sms messages, rifle through MP3 playlists, tweet, e-mail, surf the web, watch YouTube or do any one of a hundred other things. Also, don’t enter GPS destinations into sat-nav units, at least with the vehicle in motion.

Interesting to note that only some of these practises is illegal.

The bottom line is that if your eyes are off the road for just two seconds while you are – let’s be kind – otherwise engaged, then even at just 60km/h you will be 33 metres further into a crash than you would been if you had been paying attention. Most crashes don’t send you a calendar invitation to attend, 30 minutes out from actually happening – meaning they are unscripted. And that means they usually occur without warning, which is why it’s dangerous to take your eyes off the road when the car is moving. Remember, if you hit something unyielding at 60km/h in the average Australian car, even at just 60km/h, there is a high probability you will get badly hurt.