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The dangers of multitasking at the wheel

Coles Financial Services 30th May 2015 in Car insurance

Food and drink

Have you ever seen a driver doing something behind the wheel they shouldn’t? Taking a phone call on a handset, turning around to yell at the kids, or even (and yes, we’ve seen it happen) eating a bowl of cereal.

In today’s busy world we’re all under pressure to get more things done in less time, but there are some real dangers to mu ltitasking at the wheel. Being distracted for a just few seconds can lead to disaster. No one wants to back in to a new sports car and then spend years paying off the debt. 

Here are some things to avoid to keep you and others safe.

Food and drink

This is one distraction many of us are guilty of. You might have just picked up your family’s drive thru order and with your stomach grumbling you take one hand off the wheel, glance at the bag and reach in. It’s only a split second but a lot can happen in this time. It’s better to be safe and wait. Plus, you won’t get in trouble from your family for eating their food!

Making phone calls

In Australia it’s legal to use a hands free kit while driving but some US states have banned mobile phone use at the wheel altogether. A study in 2006 showed that drivers using a mobile phone may be just as impaired as drunk drivers and are five times more likely to have an accident. It might just be safer to pull over. 

Social Media

Making calls is bad enough, but we do other things with our phones that can be even worse. When faced with carrying out a visual task (like driving) and audio task (like listening to the radio) together we can just about cope. But it seems that conducting two visual tasks - like driving and texting - is too much for us. We’re slowly getting the message about not making calls, but Facebook has been blamed for an increase in phone use while driving. Whether it’s a status update, text or even a selfie, wait until you’re out of the car.

Personal grooming

We’ve all seen women doing their make-up in traffic. This is not only a distraction from driving but there’s always the risk of poking yourself in the eye with your mascara. Women aren’t the only ones who groom at the wheel though, a rushed shave in the car is a popular male activity though thankfully these seem to be electric rather than wet shaves! Neither are a good idea!

Family matters

Driving with kids in the car can be a distraction in itself, “Are we there yet?” But it’s worse if you have to break up squabbles or stop the little ones climbing out of their car seats. It’s always best to pull over to deal with these things rather than trying to do them on the move. Remember you have the safety of your kids as well as yourself to consider.

Multitaskers don’t stop there, they rifle through their bags, read documents and books, crane their necks to look at passers-by and even fire up their laptops. 

What’s really interesting is that while we might believe we’re good at doing several things at once, more research shows we’re not. Not even multitaskers are good at multitasking! In fact the people who are best at it are least likely to do it as they’re better at focusing on a single task.

Driving a car is a complex task in itself. If you have an accident or are pulled over for a traffic offence because you are trying to multitask, chances are you could be paying more at your next car insurance renewal or get landed with a hefty fine. 

The main message: just stick to driving when you’re driving a car.

Tags: insurance cars car safety car tips driver distraction