The Automobile Association (AA) has called on South African motorists to change their attitude when it comes to texting while driving, which it says causes major distraction.
The association said it tested journalists at an event in Johannesburg on Wednesday, with ‘alarming results’.
“We brought together a number of journalists to drive in simulators. Once comfortable with the simulators, we tested them without distractions, and then again with distractions.
“The results are alarming, and clearly indicate that when distracted, drivers’ reaction times are slower, and they are much more prone to crash,” the AA said.
Journalists were sent text messages they needed to respond to, and were asked to open and close a water bottle. They were also distracted by simple conversation with a passenger.
“We saw that without distractions, the journalists were able to complete a lap of a racing circuit in fairly good times; times recorded for these laps averaged around 1.41 minutes, with hardly any crashes. However, with the distractions these lap times increased to 2.20 minutes, many of them with crashes or the cars spiralling out of control,” the AA said.
It stressed that, while the test was not entirely scientific, the results point to the dangers of having your concentration averted from the road.
The AA called on motorists who use devices while behind the wheel to change their attitudes, and take responsibility for their actions.
“A driver who is talking on a cellphone, or texting while driving, needs to realise that their actions are not only irresponsible but also put the lives of other, law-abiding citizens in jeopardy,” the AA said.
Although there are no current local statistics on how distracted driving causes crashes, the AA believes there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to suggest this number is large enough to warrant urgent attention.