Can you remember your last car journey?

Driving Concentration

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver

Are you easily distracted while you’re driving? New research has found that one in ten motorists admitted to driving on ‘autopilot’, meaning they are unable to remember all of the car journey that they have just taken.

The poll also found that over half of drivers admitted to missing a turn because they were distracted at the wheel. Keep reading to find out more and why a leading driving organisation believes distraction is often caused by the ‘naive obsession with lower speed limits’.

Over half of motorists miss turns because they are distracted

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is urging motorists to beware of the perils of driving on autopilot following research which shows that one in ten drivers are often unable to remember their entire car journey.

The survey of almost 1500 drivers also revealed that fifty-four per cent of drivers admitted to missing a turning because they were distracted.  A further 14 per cent of drivers are quite often unable to recall any part of their journey in the car.

Younger drivers (18-25 year olds) are the most likely to be in danger of distraction with over a third (35 per cent) stating they couldn’t recall any part of their journey, often or quite often. In comparison only five per cent of older drivers (65+) admitted to not remembering their journey.

The data also threw up regional differences. 22 per cent of Londoners are less likely to recall any part of their journey, compared to only 11 per cent of Scottish drivers, and 10 per cent of drivers in the South West.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “It’s all too easy to get behind the wheel and zone out completely.  Being distracted enough that you miss a turning is a sign that driving is a task that has fallen too low in your brain’s priorities.  While we all have other concerns and stresses in our lives which can take precedence in our minds, the act of driving should remain your biggest priority when behind the wheel.

“The fact is it takes too long to react appropriately if you are not concentrating on driving. Being distracted can have serious consequences, it could mean that you’re less likely to see that cyclist or child running out until it’s too late.”

5 tips to keeping alert when driving

To encourage drivers to avoid becoming distracted, the IAM has issues some helpful tips. These include:

  1. Plan your journey to include a rest break every two hours
  2. Drink enough fluids
  3. Make concentrating on the road ahead your main priority
  4. Roll down the windows for some fresh air
  5. If you feel drowsy, stop at the next service area and stretch your legs

‘Naive obsession with speed limits’ to blame

Reacting to the IAM’s warning about the dangers of ‘driving on autopilot’ due to distractions, the Association of British Drivers has said that the suppression of attentive driving by the naive obsession with lower speed limits is a major cause of distraction.

ABD Spokesman Nigel Humphries explains: “Driving at a speed with a good balance between speed and safety demands that the driver give full attention to the road. When drivers are forced to drive at absurdly low speeds, they stop paying attention, because they no longer perceive any risk. Their mind wanders off to other worries.”



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