Ever check your cellphone notifications behind the wheel without thinking about it? Ever drive from point A to point B without any memory of doing so? If so, you're not alone.
Those who have been driving for a long time may develop habits that can significantly increase the likelihood of a crash. When drivers attend driving school and first get their driver’s licenses, the rules of the road and safe driving habits are fresh in their minds.
However, drivers may gradually find themselves falling into a “comfort zone” where poor habits are second nature.
Dean T. Johnson, president and founder of The Sandy Johnson Foundation: Making Our Roads Safer, identified six dangerous driving habits that many drivers regularly engage in without realizing it, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
Research was conducted as part of a series that determines how driver conditioning was a factor in the death of Sandy Johnson and her mother – both of whom were killed in an intersection crash in 2002.
Six dangerous habits drivers don't realize they're doing
By using the 2002 crash as an example and analyzing multiple reports from other crashes, Johnson was able to find a link between traffic accidents and driver conditioning.
According to Johons, there are six habits that drivers engage in without realizing it. These include:
- Mental compromise: This habit involves splitting attention between driving and other activities or thoughts. Examples include:
- Taking eyes off the road to look at something in or outside of a car
- Engaging in activities other than driving
- Daydreaming or getting lost in a thought
- Cognitive disengagement: This includes driving without thought or any memory of doing so. Cognitive disengagement is also known as “highway hypnosis” and usually impacts drivers who travel the same route on a regular basis.
- Tunnel Vision: Peripheral vision can be compromised when drivers focus only on a small section of the road in the far-off distance. Drivers are not only unaware of what’s going on next to them or in their blind spots, they may pass through traffic lights, stop signs, and intersections without even realizing it.
- Inattentional blindness: Inattention can cause drivers to fail to see what’s going on within their field of vision. This occurs when drivers are fixed on one thing but fail to see another.
- Delayed reaction time: Avoiding a crash requires full attention and immediate action. Any form of distraction or inattention can cause a delay in reaction time – such as identifying a collision risk immediately before a crash occurs.
Break the conditioning
In order to prevent a crash caused by driver conditioning, Johnson urges drivers to break these bad habits. Doing so requires being challenged regularly and using good judgment behind the wheel.
Drivers can break their conditioning simply by analyzing their actions and considering the consequences. For example, drivers who often text behind the wheel may have developed a habit of doing so because they have never been involved in a crash. It only takes a split second of inattention for a crash to occur, however.
If you or a loved one were injured in a crash with a driver who wasn’t fully engaged, discuss your matter with an experienced Orlando car accident attorney at Law Offices of Scott M. Miller, P.A. We offer free consultation. Contact us today to learn more.