An intriguing survey on distracted driving was recently released by the roadside services provider, AA of Ireland. The number one distraction for men? Attractive women on foot or bicycles.
Distracted driving study
Nearly a third of men surveyed — 29 percent — said they have had near-crashes from gazing at a particularly striking female alongside the road. While the result is not surprising, and maybe a little amusing, driver distraction can be a serious problem.
‘Driving requires concentration’
Conor Faughnan, AA’s Director of Consumer Affairs, said:
“While people may joke about a ‘mini skirt affect’, the onlooker phenomenon or ‘rubbernecking’ can be dangerous and frustrating… The more general point of driver distraction is a serious concern for all drivers. Driving requires concentration at all times.”
AA of Ireland is the country’s equivalent of the Automobile Association of America. It provides 24 hour road service, as well as auto insurance packages. AA of Ireland surveyed 15,500 Irish motorists for its recent study.
Other male distractions
The next distraction that men cited as causing the most near-misses was advertising billboards. Fifteen percent of men said they could relate to that. Roadside crashes have distracted 13 percent. The next largest distraction, at ten percent, is other cars stopped by law enforcement.
In the eyes of women
Female drivers also admitted to being distracted into near-misses, though for different reasons. The distraction most often cited by women in the study were billboard advertising and auto accidents — at about the same rate as men. About 10 percent of women surveyed glanced at cars stopped by police to the point of a near-accident.
However, only 2.3 percent of women mentioned hot guys as a dangerous road distraction.
The only distraction cited more times by women was roadside art.
Can Americans be much different?
It would be interesting to see a similar study done on U.S. motorists. I suspect the results would break down in a similar fashion.
In 2010, the most recent year for which U.S. statistics are available, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said more than 3,000 were killed on American highways from distraction-related accidents. That is about one out of every ten traffic fatality. In spite of these numbers, the NHTSA also found that around 75 percent of motorists will answer a phone call while driving.
Although the Irish study admits that very few of these distraction incidents actually led to crashes, and even fewer to injuries, it does conclude that “simple accidents happen very quickly, so let’s remind ourselves to concentrate this summer on the roads.” That’s good advice in any nation.