Social and Political Commentary

Distraction during driving

... dis the dis and it's traction

by Russ Priestley

We are all subject to distraction during driving. Modern technology has given us many ways to transfer our attention and concentration to the radio, cell phone and computer screens, whether installed or portable. With the increase in the number of vehicles on the road, one must be more attentive than ever, lest the distraction results in traction.
And I'm referring to the medical meaning, not the automotive description of traction.

There have been many reports of driver distraction where drivers have been trying to accomplish other chores... shaving, putting on makeup, reading a book or newspaper, or catching up on office work. More recently, cell phones have become the most prevalent detraction of the attention needed. Any single one of the above actions is a serious distraction to operating an automobile in the safe manner demanded by the heavy vehicular traffic of our everyday life.

There have been studies proving that the human mind can concentrate on only one situation. One may think he can split his attention to two or more situations, but the mind is actually fluctuating back and forth to each. The fraction of a second of detraction or distraction leads to inaction or the wrong action.

Do not be misled into believing that the use of a headset for a radio, tape player or cell phone does not distract you from the full attention to the job of driving responsibly. When the Massachusetts State Lottery urges people to "play (the lottery) responsibly" it must mean that one should not be "scratching" lottery tickets while driving. Now, finally, I have a reasonable explanation for that radio tag coming at the end of the promotional spot for our lottery.

Before I'm accused of the protraction of this subject of distraction causing inaction, detraction, no or slow reaction leading to an infraction, then I will close... even though it represents only a fraction of my satisfaction.

March 4, 2005

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