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Who’s the Most Likely to Drive Distracted?

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Distracted driving is a growing problem on our roadways around the world. Who are the most common offenders? According to a recent study, it’s young men, and those with more extroverted and neurotic personalities. Though the results are preliminary, they reveal some interesting connections between intentions and behavior when it comes to distracted driving.

Study Finds Young Men Most Likely to Drive Distracted

For the study, researchers collected data from two samples: the first consisted of about 1,100 High School students, and the second was a more general group of about 400 drivers. The results showed some significant differences between people and how much they tend to be distracted in their lives.

Overall, the researchers found that young men were the most likely to report distraction while driving. Others with higher levels of distraction included those with neurotic and extroverted personalities. Those who felt driving distracted was more socially acceptable, or that it was beyond their control, were also more likely to say they had allowed distractions to disrupt their driving. Older women and those who felt they could control their distracted behavior were less likely to report driving distracted.

What Interventions Might Help Reduce Distracted Driving?

What interventions might work to get people to keep their eyes on the road at all times? The researchers wondered about this, too, and examined the effectiveness of one intervention, in which the participants planned to reduce distractive behavior. The participants in the intervention group, however, reduced their distracted driving no more than a control group, showing the intervention to be unsuccessful.

The researchers encouraged further studies to determine which interventions might help reduce distracted driving and suggested targeting certain groups that are more likely to get distracted.

“Younger males with bad attitudes and poor PBC [perceived behavioral control] seem to generally be a group associated with greater risk, which should be focused on for future campaigns.”

They added that other studies should include measures of sensation-seeking, risk-taking, and other related factors and how they impact distractions.

In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems Create More Challenges

There are applications drivers can install on their phones now that can help curb distraction, but as the technology in cars continues to expand, the challenge remains. Today’s infotainment systems in vehicles present an entirely new distraction hazard, with the AAA finding that in-vehicle technology can create distractions just as dangerous as that created by cell phones. The AAA also evaluated infotainment systems in new 2017 vehicles and found that programming navigation was the most distracting task, taking an average of 40 seconds to complete. They also reported that none of the systems could be qualified as having a “low demand” on attention.

“The world of distraction is evolving really quickly,” Ken Kolosh, manager of the statistics group at the U.S. National Safety Council, told NPR, noting that 15 years ago, “we felt texting was so obviously dangerous, not many people will do it.” Now we’re facing not only texting while driving, but a number of other related distractions that can greatly increase the odds of an accident.

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