Hergott: Focus your attention on the road when driving a vehicle

There is an endless list of distractions … Consider your dentist having a hands-free phone discussion while drilling on your tooth.

Paul Hergott

“I would like to inform you about the tremendous positive impact you have had on my driving behaviour and that of my husband. In addition, your influence has resulted in me becoming a better pedestrian.”

I would like to thank Colleen for those incredible words, which caused my heart to almost burst from my chest.

I could not have felt more esteemed and valued.

I also thank her for sharing her road safety suggestion.

Colleen gave her husband credit for the suggestion, even though she uses the tool daily in her work as a therapist.

She referred to it as “mindfulness,” explaining it this way: “He believes it is more effective to be fully aware and present in the moment without judgment as opposed to thinking about where you need to be and how late you are.”

I have long identified inattention—i.e. a lack of constant, direct attention to the important driving task at hand—as being the cause of the vast majority of crashes.

I have pointed to the insane prevalence of rear-ender crashes, where drivers simply fail to notice that traffic has stopped, and crash into the back of the stopped traffic.

Mindfulness, if defined as a heightened or complete sense of awareness of what’s going on in the moment, would eliminate the inattention that causes crashes.

If we simply make mindfulness behind the wheel our goal, there should be no need to make a list of all the various activities or thoughts that can distract our attention, such as putting on makeup, texting, having a cell phone discussion, thinking about work, eating, etc.

There is an endless list of things that can steal our attention, pulling it away from the road ahead just enough and at just the right moment, to cause a crash.

However unnecessary it should be to make that list, I think it can be helpful to consider the various distractors in the context of activities that everyone agrees, without question, must command our constant focus of attention.

Consider your dentist having a hands-free telephone discussion while drilling away on your tooth.

How about a woodworker taking a bite out of a burger while pushing wood through a table saw.

Consider a chef slicing vegetables with a sharp knife while day dreaming.

If we recognize that distractors don’t fit with those activities, perhaps we will clue in that they don’t fit with driving either.

I came up with a fun way to visually illustrate the point. My road safety campaign, One Crash is Too Many, is sponsoring a contest.

There are first and second prizes ($100 and $50) for three age categories of artists, plus a photograph category and a video category for a total of $750 in prizes.

Details can be found on the One Crash is Too Many website (OneCrashisTooMany.com).

Basically, you use art, photography or video to show someone doing an activity you wouldn’t dream of doing without your constant, undivided attention, while engaging in some behaviour or exhibiting an impaired or other mental state that distracts attention.

And of course, please don’t actually put anyone in danger if you are using photography or video.

It’s a good cause, but not that good!

The deadline for submissions is Nov. 9, 2016. Winners will be announced Nov.16, at the fifth annual Kelowna commemoration of the National Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

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One Crash is Too Many will be holding the fifth annual Kelowna commemoration of the National Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Wednesday, Nov. 16.  Here is a link to a promotional video for the National Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azJy-zVar6U

This year we have added an art contest, with the hope of encouraging a greater participation from young individuals.

There will be $750 in prizes and the winners will be announced at the event. The contest is a fun way to use artistic abilities while showing the ridiculousness of inattention while performing other activities that require constant attention. The contest package is attached, which contains the rules, sample submissions, etc.

Below are links to the contest on our One Crash is too Many website, as well as the events created in our OCTM Facebook page:

 

One Crash is Too Many Art Contest:  http://www.onecrashistoomany.com/event/one-crash-is-too-many-art-contest/

 

Facebook Event – OCTM Art Contest:  https://www.facebook.com/events/790478547760593/

 

Facebook Event – National Day of Remembrance:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1783803961875436/