Traffic safety: Distraction is often the cause of accidents

dateWednesday, January 31st, 2018

Verkehrssicherheit - Unfälle oft menschliches Versagen

90 percent of all truck accidents are wholly or at least partly caused by human error. Guest author Christoph Becker advises on road safety and gives tips on how to cultivate concentration and safety.

The safe driving of a truck or transporter always requires full concentration on traffic. A brief inattention may not only lead to dangerous traffic situations or risky driving maneuvers, but also to serious accidents. 90 percent of all truck accidents are wholly or at least partly caused by human error. This is because we humans are only partially able to perform several activities at the same time or in rapid alternation, since the brain can coordinate only one, maximum two complex activities at the same time.

The human factor

With the wealth of information that we need to pick up and process on the road, the brain is always running at full speed. However, its capacity and performance are limited: Under optimal conditions, we can simultaneously record and evaluate a maximum of 7 to 8 facts.

Further information that could be important for road safety will then no longer be evaluated. About 90 percent of the information from the environment we perceive as snapshots of our eyes. Without these pictures, we are practically moving forward in “blind flight mode”. From routine, however, we believe we know what happens, even if we do not look. But what if just then the preceding truck slows down or another road user takes us the right of way?

Verkehrssicherheit - Ablenkung am Steuer

The seduction is enormous

Not only the smartphone, but also many everyday actions can cause distraction. Even pondering and thinking about problems while driving can lead to the fact that you are no longer mentally “on the road“ and the driving action automatically runs in the background. The view goes “inside” and away from the traffic. It is then difficult to detect, process and react to danger signals in a timely manner.

What can I do?

Careful driving preparation is essential for traffic safety.

In addition to the pre-trip inspection, the adjustment of exterior mirrors as well as seat and steering wheel should be included. While driving, making the settings means extra distraction and the associated increased risk of accidents.

The navigation device should be adjusted before driving and the volume checked to ensure that no improvements are needed while driving. This includes setting up the handsfree operation of the phone before starting. Carried items should not be left unattached on the dashboard or the passenger seat. You may be distracted by slipping or falling items while driving. When searching or grabbing for items, the risk increases by many times. If the gaze is briefly averted from the traffic – and possibly the steering wheel is torn -, a serious accident can result. Items such as drinking bottles or breakfast box on the front passenger seat or the the dashboard additionally divert by sliding, rolling or impending falling while driving.

  • Try to differentiate between important and unimportant information for traffic safety.
  • Keep your eyes on the traffic, not the inside!

Written by Christoph Becker

Police chief inspector and road safety consultant at police Münster.
The department for road safety of police Münster informs drivers of commercial goods and persons free by sending regular "information-mails". We will keep you up-to-date on news and changes in the social rules (driving and rest periods). Information on digital recording equipment, cargo securing and anything that might be important to you, we will pass on to you.
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E-mail: vsb.muenster@polizei.nrw.de



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