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What You Should Do When Your Thoughts Distract Your Driving
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What You Should Do When Your Thoughts Distract Your Driving

It's really saddening that the number of road accidents because of smartphone usage while driving is increasing every year. However, there is another factor that turns out to be dangerous in many cases, which is distracted driving, drivers getting lost in their own thoughts.

The Snowball Effect

When you drive, a minor disruption, say a hoarding at a distance, can also distract you for many minutes. This is called The Snowball Effect. According to Wikipedia, "Metaphorically, a snowball effect is a process that starts from an initial state of small significance and builds upon itself, becoming larger (graver, more serious), and also perhaps potentially dangerous or disastrous (a vicious circle)." According to researcher Shaun Vecera, who studied the attentional disengagement as the possible cause of poor driving while using a cell phone, "Talking on the phone while driving slows your attention down, and we're just not aware of it because it happens so fast."

The delay is about 40 milliseconds, or four-hundredths of a second, which may not seem like a long time. But that delay compounds: Every time the brain is distracted, the time to disengage from one action and initiate another action gets longer. "It's a snowball effect," Vecera says, "and that's what contributes to the problem, because eventually you're oblivious to a lot that's around you." Similar situation, according to various researchers, can also happen when you are lost in thoughts.

How you stay alert

Here is the best tip to stay focused on road and alert while driving: Read the nameplates.

Read the car makes, name plates and the numbers. This will make you focus on the road completely. This especially works for Indian roads as you would always find many cars ahead of you. Other tips would be the obvious:

  • Put smartphones on silent, as even looking at it to see who has called can break your focus.
  • Avoid eating or sipping coffee while driving.
  • Plan your route ahead, even if you are using GPS, as a sudden left or right turn to take the right route can be fatal.
  • Sleep well before starting on a long journey.
(Also read: You Can Now Hire A Self-Drive Car In One City And Drop It Off At Another)

(Image Credit: Indiatimes)

(With inputs from ANI)

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