For more traffic safety, the Münster police station has launched a prevention campaign in the urban area and on the highways around Münster, in order to sensitize the road users to the dangers of road diversions. Our guest writer, Christoph Becker, Chief of Police, reports.
How does distraction affect traffic safety?
The human being is only conditionally capable of performing several activities at the same time or in rapid alternation. In the case of various activities, we only perceive part of the “concurrent” actions. When we concentrate on one thing, we blind other senses. One activity becomes secondary in favor of another or runs automatically as a routine in the background. However, if another action adds to it, e.g. braking behind a preceding vehicle or at the end of a traffic jam, performance drops drastically and an accident is pre-programmed.
Do you belong to these target groups?
- More than 80% of those aged up to 45 years say they use their mobile phone in road traffic.
- Anyone looking for the mobile phone, talking on the phone and, above all, reading or writing texts increases the risk of an accident almost fourfold.
- One in ten telephones or types messages while driving across the highway.
- On long and monotonous routes (motorways) the temptation to handle the mobile phone is twice as big as in city traffic.
How am I distracted by my smartphone?
Each conversation distracts us by its content and intensity from traffic. It also requires our imagination, because the mimic, gesture and emotions of the conversation partner are completely absent on the phone. Adding to this is the mood that influences how closely we perceive our environment. In addition, the call partner does not know the current traffic situation and expects our full attention during the telephone call.
Even more dangerous is surfing the Internet, news, or social networks. Any look away from traffic could then be the last. The group of pedestrians and cyclists is also severely affected, although they are often unaware of this. This safety is deceptive because children and adolescents misjudge traffic situations when distracted. You should at all times focus on traffic and not on mobile phones (Pokémon-Go).
Even routine everyday actions must be kept in mind
The risk of accidents increases by 1.5 times during routine actions such as eating, drinking or smoking in the vehicle. When searching or grasping objects, such as a lighter, the risk is many times higher. If the view is briefly averted from traffic – and possibly the steering wheel torn off – a serious accident can be the result. Objects such as drink bottles or breakfast boxes on the passenger seat or the dashboard shelf are also strongly distracting by slipping, rolling or threatening dropping during the drive.