31 May 2018

ACT motorists having near misses while being distracted by kids, pets and hunger pangs

| Glynis Quinlan
Join the conversation

Diets and Distraction: Survey reveals what distracts motorists, including opening food while driving.

Misbehaving children, unrestrained pets, opening food, and taking your eyes off the road to search for street signs are some of the biggest distractions on the road for ACT and NSW motorists, according to recently-released research from Suncorp.

A national survey carried out on behalf of the finance and insurance corporation revealed that almost half of ACT and NSW motorists have had a near miss because they were distracted while driving, with 15 per cent of respondents actually causing an accident due to distractions.

More than 5,000 ACT and NSW motorists were surveyed by Lonergan Research last year, with 59 per cent of parents saying they have had to discipline misbehaving kids while driving and a quarter of respondents having had misbehaving pets in the car.

Hunger pangs have proven to be another major distraction with 57 per cent of people opening food while driving, while 51 per cent of people have dropped something and tried to pick it up while driving.

More than half of the ACT and NSW motorists surveyed also said they have taken their eyes off the road for longer than is comfortable to look for street names or house numbers.

Grooming is another key distraction with 17 per cent of people saying they have done their hair or makeup at the traffic lights.

Other key findings in terms of driving distractions included a quarter of people saying they have sent a text while driving, 37 per cent of people having sent a text while stopped at a traffic light and 38 per cent of people having set a GPS navigation system while stopped at traffic lights.

A quarter of people surveyed said they have sent a text while driving.

A quarter of people surveyed said they have sent a text while driving.

Perhaps not surprisingly, verbal phone conversations are another big distraction with 32 per cent of people saying they’d had these conversations handset in hand, 38 per cent with the handset on their lap, and 46 per cent using a hands-free kit in their car.

Suncorp spokesperson Ashleigh Paterson said the proportion of near misses caused by distracted driving is concerning.

“Drivers should be mindful of the added risks that come from being on the road for extended periods of time, driving in unfamiliar areas, or having your car full of noisy family members – including furry ones,” Ms Paterson said.

She encouraged residents to take a break every two hours, get a good night’s sleep ahead of a long journey and to share driving duties where possible.

“It’s also a good idea to minimise distractions by keeping your phone out of reach and nominating another family member to navigate.”

Ms Paterson said that tips for staying safe on the road include:

  • make use of driver reviver sites and change drivers at each rest stop;
  • don’t drive at times when you would normally be asleep or tired;
  • take a break from driving at least every two hours to help fight driver fatigue;
  • if you’re a passenger, encourage your driver to take a break; and
  • keep your eyes on the road and avoid distraction.

Do you often get distracted while driving? Do you think people understand how serious these distractions can be? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Blen_Carmichael11:22 am 04 Jun 18

Someone mentioned tailgating. Yes, it’s dangerous and those who do it are stupid. That said, there is another motorist who is equally dangerous, and that is the one who sees his role as policing the speed of others. I’m talking about the motorist who sits in the right lane directly alongside a vehicle in the left lane so as to prevent traffic from overtaking. Their rationale is that they are doing the speed limit. Often this is not the case: speedometers are often inaccurate if not certified regularly. Let the lunatics pass you and leave it for the police to catch them. I’ve seen cases where some officious twit has so many cars sitting behind him in the right lane that he’s oblivious to the fact that one of them is an ambulance with lights and sirens blaring.

I hate those kind of pompous drivers. Are they unable to understand the simple concept of “keep left unless overtaking”? I really wish the police would crack down on terrible drivers, too many and the numbers are growing.

HiddenDragon6:01 pm 03 Jun 18

There’s something very special, and possibly very Canberra, about being overtaken and then cut-off by a vehicle with a “Baby on Board” sign preciously bobbing about in the rear window.

Mad Maxes and Maxines should leave the sign at home, or maybe hang it from the rear vision mirror as a reminder.

Nah, no excuse required, just cr@p drivers.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.