On the road: Here’s what’s most likely to kill you

  • Even the best can’t handle satnav too
  • Killed on road one thing, but suicide?
  • Track text exposes real cellphone peril

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – So, another long weekend in South Africa then… Unless you’re stupid enough to be one of them, you’re up against unroadworthy vehicles with defective brakes and headlights, unlicensed drivers who’ve had no training at all, drunks, taxis out for just one more buck, one more cramped passenger.

And, just to repeat the message, stupid people who cannot read the road, gauge the speed of oncoming traffic, understand and obey the simplest of road signs and believe the ‘rules of the road’ don’t apply to them.

JOE FINNERTY: Image: Google
JOE FINNERTY: Image: Auto Express

They’re not out to get you, to slaughter your family, to kill 18 children by ramming them into a giant truck as happened on the previous holiday weekend. They are just plain stupid.

So, though based in Britain, road- safety charity IAM RoadSmart and Auto Express, the UK’s best-selling car magazine, teamed up to find out which are the deadliest behind-the-wheel distractions that compete with the above for dumbest drivers…

Auto Express’ consumer editor Joe Finnerty was put to the test alongside British Formula 3 hopeful Jamie Chadwick in a professional racing simulator at Base Performance Simulators in Banbury, southern England. Each was assessed to see how they coped with the most common distracting tasks on UK roads while doing timed laps and braking at a specific point.

On hand was IAM RoadSmart’s head of technical policy, Tim Shallcross, to monitor the findings, who said the results were shocking, with a huge difference in performance between distractions.

Entering a post code into a satnav app (every address in the UK has its own alphanumeric address code which is easier to insert than, say,  24 Smith Street, Jonestown), proved to be the worst.

JAMIE CHADWICK: Image: Google
JAMIE CHADWICK: Image: Auto Express

Next was sending a text message. Other tasks while each was driving included eating, drinking, making a phone call and simply talking to a passenger.

Shallcross said: “There was a significant speed reduction for Joe when using satnav. Even ultra-focused Jamie completely missed the stop line.

” The moral? Those warning screens about not entering details on the move are there for a reason – don’t ignore them.”

It could kill you and your family. Don’t bloody well do it!

On texting Shawcross said: “Joe would have been a menace to other road users; the car was more or less out of control. Jamie’s caution reduced the distraction in critical zones but a sudden incident would have left her unable to take avoiding action.”

The least distracting task for lap time was talking to a passenger but it still ranked very poorly for the braking test. Shawcross explained: “It was the least distracting of all in terms of lap times but both drivers failed to brake accurately at the target line.

‘IT COULD BE CRUCIAL’

“Their ability to drive normally confirms the difference between the extra distraction of a phone conversation and the natural act of talking to a passenger but still shows that any distraction reduces attention.

“It could be crucial in an emergency.”

Steve Fowler, Auto Express; editor-in-chief, said: “These results highlight just how important it is that drivers give their full attention to the road. We’ve seen the staggering numbers of people still using a cellphone at the wheel and our tests showed how dangerous they can be… whether it’s texting, calling or programming the satnav.

“More work needs to be done to target those who still think it’s acceptable to use a cellphone while driving.”

Would that be YOU, then…?

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