Most of us don’t consciously engage when we get behind the wheel now.
Be honest, when was the last time you paused for a second before you turned the key and considered the importance of what you’re about to do? You’re at the helm of a potentially deadly weapon! But no we’re so preoccupied with the next item on the agenda in our busy lives and cars have become so much safer and user-friendly that we just hit the gas and go.
This hit home during a recent drive in the Jaguar F-Type R coupe.
Getting the opportunity to sample a car like this is, for me, the stuff of which dreams are made. But I was also acutely aware of the cars $240K-plus price tag so I found myself regularly checking the mirrors, watching the speedo and looking over my shoulder before I changed lanes.
It was the kind of alertness that I felt had been missing in my daily drives.
Ian Luff, the Principal of Drive to Survive, reckons many of us zone out as we travel along.
“It’s like they select D for Dream instead of Decisive or Deliberate” he quips.
“We’re so time poor that drive time has become think time. It’s not the place to solve a dispute at home or a crisis at work.
“The real worry is tunnel vision, which can set in during these moments. Their mind wanders on to something else, instead of focusing on the road and making good choices — that’s when peripheral vision blurs. Crashes happen so easily without that level of awareness of your surroundings,” he told me.
Complacency on our roads might be a hard thing to quantify but it is clearly a factor when you look at some of the data gathered by the Victorian Government-owned Transport Accident Commission (TAC). In a survey of the 1000 licence holders aged 18 to 60, 82 per cent considered driving while using a hand-held mobile phone to be dangerous. No surprise there. Then 63 per cent admitted to using a mobile phone, at the wheel, within the previous month!
More than one in ten said they would read a text while driving!
“Either turn your phone off, keep it out of reach or use a smartphone app like Road Mode to silence your incoming calls and messages and let the caller know you’re driving and can’t answer” says TAC CEO, Janet Dore.
“Using a mobile phone while driving increases your risk of being in a crash by up to four times,” the TAC boss claims.
The phone itself might be the physical distraction but the fact we’re complacent enough to even consider using it when we drive is seriously concerning. How do we change this mindset?
Confronting campaigns like those made by organisations such as the TAC will help. So will aspects of Luff’s driver training, but I believe we need to get back to the fundamentals.
Driving is be one of the most enjoyable parts of my day. On the odd occasions that I ride a motorbike it’s just as pleasurable, although I spend those trips with a heightened sense of awareness… Contemplating what the car beside me is about to do, or perhaps, whether I’m in the blind spot of the truck up ahead…
And that’s the state of mind we need to adopt every time we set off on a journey even if it is only just around the corner.
Stop. Park the clutter in your mind. Think of your passengers. Think of other motorists and pedestrians…
Driving or riding is something that requires your full attention for the entire journey. It’s complex and at times challenging. The same approach I took when driving that expensive Jag should be no different if I get behind the wheel of an old $3K Corolla.
Courtesy : Greg Rust is a freelance sports presenter and commentator with Network Ten.