Distractions at the wheel compromise a driver’s reaction time

Many experienced drivers believe that they can do multiple things at once. The assumption is that Americans are multitaskers, so they can talk, text, check emails and drive all at the same time. However, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently conducted a thorough study on motorists' mental distractions. According to the study, as the mental activity increases, a motorist's reaction time slows down. As a result, distracted drivers are missing important visual clues on the road.

According to CBS Pittsburgh, 150 drivers participated in the study and were analyzed as they both "drove" a vehicle (via a simulator) and engaged in other activities. Brain waves, eye movement and other body reactions were measured during the test. The study incorporated several distractions, including talking on the phone, audio books and responding to emails using voice-texting services.

The aftermath of the study

The results of the investigation suggest that motorists' reaction times are compromised by the use of distracting devices. For this reason, the President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety hopes to collaborate soon with the electronic industry and car manufacturers regarding the use of distracting devices while driving. The goal is to learn and understand as much as possible about the repercussions of inattentive driving and work to make driving safer on the roads. This can help limit the chance of a car crash.

Pennsylvania Law

Several states have laws that restrict the use of electronic devices while operating a vehicle. Currently, all motorists in Pennsylvania are prohibited from texting while driving. This is a primary law in the state. That means that if an officer observes a motorist texting and driving behind the wheel, he or she can pull over the driver. In other words, authorities do not need a separate reason, such as speeding, to pull over an offender.

While texting and driving is extremely problematic, the aforementioned study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that various types of distractions - beyond phones - can interfere with a driver's ability to concentrate on the road. Eating, drinking, grooming and other similar activities can interfere, too. The good news is that laws all over the nation are slowly evolving to incorporate more driving restrictions, which limit distractions behind the wheel.

If you have been harmed by a distracted driver in an auto accident, take the time to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney in your area.