The science behind distracted driving behaviours

Distracted driving has been an increasingly common topic of conversation when it comes to car accidents. Texting and driving has been an especially hot button issue in recent years as more and more drivers are using mobile phones that offer myriad distractions, such as being able to text, email or browse social media while driving.

However, less attention has been given to the impact that other distracted driving behaviours may have. A recently published study shows what happens when a driver is distracted and why texting and driving may be especially dangerous.

The researchers behind the study had 59 drivers drive the same stretch of road a total of four times. The order of the drives was varied to eliminate any bias, but the four trips included one under normal driving conditions where the driver was focused on the road, one when the driver was distracted with challenging cognitive questions, one when the driver was distracted with challenging emotional questions and one when the driver was asked to respond to simple texts.

The study showed that in all of the distracted trips, the drivers showed an increase in jittery behavior with the steering wheel. However, the one trip that this actually resulted in swerving or dangerous driving behaviors was the texting and driving trip. Researchers believe this is because the brain is able to correct the jitteriness as long as the driver is looking at the road. When the driver looks down to text, it interrupts the hand-eye coordination loop, resulting in swerving and lane deviations.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may a claim for compensation. A lawyer can help you explore your options.

Source: EurekAlert!, "A sixth sense protects drivers except when texting," May 12, 2016

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