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Can you drive eyes closed?

We can get distracted while driving in many different ways
10/05/2021
A phone call comes in. I want to select another artist in my playlist. What does that advertisement board on the roadside say? I will quickly reply to this text. On average, distracted driving takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. If you are driving at 90km/h, it’s as if you were driving eyes closed right through the length of a football field in 4.6 seconds.*1

Sometimes you are looking ahead but your attention may be drawn to thoughts popping up in your head. Using a hands-free device is a little less distracting than texting, but it still does take focus off the road. Eating, smoking, changing navigation settings – all these are common causes of distraction.

Studies show that distracted drivers are about 4 times more likely to be involved in crashes than those who are focused on driving. Drivers who are texting can be more than 20 times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers.*2

“Our aim is zero accidents and safer mobility. So, Toyota takes part in initiatives to develop car functions that countermeasure distracted driving.”

Tjark Kreuzinger, R&D Safety Research & Technical Affairs, Toyota Motor Europe

Tjark Kreuzinger, Senior Manager Toyota Motor Europe R&D Safety Research & Technical Affairs says: “Safety functions can help, but equally important is that using any onboard function must not distract the driver. As part of the car designing process, we always pay a lot of attention to avoid elements that can be distractive. If operation takes too much of the driver’s attention, we don’t include that function in the touch screen menu.

“This is why we choose to use hardware switches for safety critical functions rather than touch screen. You need to look where your finger is pointing when using a touch screen, whereas, when pushing a button, you have control without looking at what you are doing. We don’t allow long text, such as title of a song, to roll on the screen either.

“Our aim is zero accidents and safer mobility. So, Toyota takes part in initiatives to develop car functions that countermeasure distracted driving.

“For example, we are involved in several research activities to better understand how distraction manifests. To develop car functions that support distracted driver, we first need to detect and measure how distracted the driver is. This is quite a challenge. We also support external organisations develop protocols for assessing and rating distracted driving assist functions of new cars.''

“We are working to push the limits of technologies to avoid or mitigate accidents. Still, car’s functions are not to take over the driver’s control.”

Tjark Kreuzinger, R&D Safety Research & Technical Affairs, Toyota Motor Europe

ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems) technologies can support safe driving by interfering when the driver makes mistakes. Automatic Emergency Brake (AEB) stops the car if you are overlooking risk of collision, whereas Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) helps keep the car within the lane. Tjark says: “We are working to push the limits of technologies to avoid or mitigate accidents. Still, car’s functions are not to take over the driver’s control.”

The solution could be simply to have eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and to organise a bit better – make that call, eat or smoke before hitting the road, or pull over to do so.