The objective of this study was to establish the reaction time (RT) of distracted driving. The study involved investigating drivers using cell phone to text while driving. Distraction caused by the use of mobile phone while driving increases the reaction time of drivers increasing the likelihood of accident. This study compares the reaction time of distracted drivers and reaction time of undistracted drivers.
Distracted driving involves the driver taking way his/her eyes off the road. The driver’s attention is diverted to the cell phone. However, texting while driving is one of the most dangerous things to do when driving because it involves the use of visual, manual, and cognitive attention. After conducting an average of 10 RT trials, the results of the study revealed that the mean reaction time for undistracted driving was 230.08 milliseconds and a standard deviation of 58.8...
7ms while the mean reaction time of distracted driving was 321.36ms and a standard deviation of 56.77ms.
The increased technology has made mobile phones a common commodity in the marketplace recently. Statistically, the incidences of deaths and life-changing accidents for our nationwide drivers are not pleasing. According to National Transport Safety Board (NTSB), texting while driving alone causes 17 deaths daily (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Para. 1). The presumption that ever people needs to receive or send text messages, and check mail get answered, may be harmless until the time they are seen causing accidents on the roadways.
The issue of distracted driving is emerging as a key contributor to many cases of car accidents on our highways. The research of effects of distraction on reaction time is justified because data from the National Transport Safety Board sho
that distracted driving accounts to about 9, 000 car accidents daily across the nation (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Para. 1). The use of mobile phone by someone driving for up to 5 minutes before a car crash is closely related to a fourfold likelihood of crashing (Shinar, David 525).
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides that at about 1.6 million car accidents yearly involve drivers using mobile phones for talking or texting while driving. Moreover, 73% of the people who drive and have mobile phones accept that they use the mobiles while driving (Hosansky, David 1). We are losing extraordinarily many lives on our roads, and for what? Convenience? Death is not and will never be convenient my fellow citizens. So we can consistently keep in touch with our families and loved ones? Surely, a fatal car accident separates that connection.
Research reveals distracted driving is worse than drunk driving. Pioneer researchers have done multiple studies using driver simulators who drive while using their mobile phones. According to research by Michael and Hosking that used both drivers, using cell phones and drunk drivers for comparisons found that driving while using mobile phones is more dangerous than driving while drunk (Federal Communications Commission Para. 2). These findings provide shocking truths about the possible hazards of using a mobile phone while driving for any person. Fellow citizens, talking on a mobile phone while behind wheels is extremely dangerous, and it is paramount to avoid it totally.
In the year 2011, over 23% of 1.3 million automotive accidents involved the use of cell phone while driving. Most of the drivers aged 18 to 20 years confessed to texting and talking with
their phones at the time the accidents occurred. Over 34% drivers admitted they texted when driving whereas 52% admitted the made a call using the cell phone while driving (“DWI” 1).
Recent research reveals that sending and receiving messages while driving forces the driver to take away his/her eyes off the road for almost 4.6 seconds. This clearly implies that during that time the driver is blind (“DWI” 1). The use of cell phone while driving makes the driver blind from some seconds. This increases the likelihood of causing an accident because the driver is not concentrating on driving.
Understanding the effect of using cell phones on driving performance and the issue of traffic safety as well as public health is one of the most important areas of research. Several studies have examined the effect of distraction on driver performance. These studies have involved simulation exercises aimed at establish the reaction time of a distracted driver and undistracted driver. Many of the studies have revealed that drivers who take off their eyes from the road for long periods have more reaction time as well as not able to control their vehicles sufficiently in a given situation (Sharma, Ram, and Rachana Sharma 228).
However, there has been minimal research on the effect of distraction driving on the reaction time of a driver. Most of the researchers have emphasized on the impact of distracted driving. These researchers have established that distracted driving leads to accidents. Towards the end of this study, the aim is to systematically analyze the reaction time of distracted driving and undistracted driving. The reaction time will be different because distracted drivers take off their eyes for
some periods while undistracted drivers do not take off their eyes.
The primary objective of the study is to prove whether distracted driving increases the reaction time. This study will aim establishing whether cognitive distraction resulting from cell phone use increase or decreases the reaction time of the driver. To accomplish this study, a car simulator was used in order to establish the effect of several levels of distraction on the driver’s reaction time. The study used free and hand held cell phone setups.
The first step was to test each subject under normal driving without any conversation or use of cell phone. Reaction time was tested within every element of test. Test participants completed a four-minute practice in order to ensure that they have clear understanding of handling the simulator. After the practice phase, the testing phase began where participants entered a 12-minute driving part. The first three minute entailed normal driving without any distraction. This section was used as the benchmark of the experiment.
After this section, the test continued by requiring the participants to use hand help phone setup. Drivers were instructed to use their phones while driving by drafting and sending a text message. To measure the reaction time for distracted drivers using mobile phones, participants tapped on a cue which would send an auditory signal to the a recorder. The recorder recorded the time lapse between the signal and the driver’s reaction time to the signal. For the undistracted section, drivers did not have phones and used earphones to listen to the beep. For each section, the driver had to react to 10 random audio beeps. Using the recorder connected to a computer,
it was easy to note the time between the beep and participants reaction time.
The study supported the hypothesis distracted driving increases the reaction time resulting to the likelihood of an accident. The results confirmed increased reaction time for drivers involved in the use of cell phones while driving. Texting while driving affected the participants driving performance. In the sections, where the participants were not required to use their phones, the reaction time to the beep was commendable. Participants took a lower time to react to the signal, which shows that undistracted drivers have a lower reaction time because their concentration is on driving.
Participants in this section did not take their eyes off the road. On the other hand, when drivers were instructed to use their cell phones while driving, there was significant increase in the reaction time. Participants in this section took more seconds to react to the beep. This is because their concentration was on the cell phone instead of driving. All the participants using cell phones took their eyes off the road.
On reaching this section, participants typing and texting exhibited prolonged as well as frequent glances off the road. In addition, distracted participants admitted to have some problems in controlling their vehicles within their lane. This implies that participants could not accurately control their vehicles on their lane. Furthermore, participants agreed that if the was another vehicle coming from the other direction, they could have caused accident because of failure to maintain the lane accurately. As a result, texting while driving lowers the performance of the driver. This increases the likelihood of causing an accident (Shinar, David 525).
This experiment discovered significant increase in
the reaction time of distracted drivers. Distracted drivers took more seconds to react to the beep compared to undistracted drivers. Distracted drivers admitted that they had problems with controlling their vehicles in the correct lane. In addition, their concentration on the vehicle was low. As a result, distracted driving lowers the driver’s ability to adequately direct his/her attention to the road. Most of the distracted drivers tend to take their eyes off the road. Therefore, it is hard for them to notice an oncoming vehicle and this increases the likelihood of causing accident. Distracted driving compromises the general safety of the driver, pedestrians and passengers.
Based on the findings of the experiment, there is need to set strict laws that prevents people from using cell phones while driving. The enactment of these laws will reduce the number of deaths resulting from distracted driving. In addition, it will ensure discipline in roads because some of the indiscipline cases involve drivers distracted driving. Finally, it is the responsibility of all citizens to observe traffic rules by staying away from distracted driving.
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