You know that distracted drivers are a risk. They’re paying attention to too many things at once, rather than just watching the road. They’re the opposite of bored; they’re overly engaged.
This is absolutely a problem in Florida. Drivers who get distracted by cellphones, for instance, cause accidents continuously. However, there is a risk on the other side of the coin. People who are merely driving often grow bored, and studies have shown that this can lead to crashes.
Boredom is a real threat. Drivers slowly disengage with the act of driving. They stop paying attention. Their thoughts wander. They start daydreaming or thinking about anything else, trying to preoccupy themselves.
Then a driver ahead of them slams on the brakes to avoid a traffic jam. If the bored driver was sitting up, watching traffic, ready to react, there would be more than enough time to stop. But the driver is sitting back, looking out the side window, thinking about work. It costs him or her just two seconds, but that’s way too much at 70 miles per hour. The bored driver, hampered by the reduced reaction time, slams into the back of the traffic jam, leading to multiple injuries.
Researchers in one study took a controversial approach. They theorized that drivers who were mildly distracted may actually be safer than drivers with no distractions.
This sounds like it flies in the face of anti-distracted driving campaigns, but it’s not quite the same. They weren’t advocating texting and driving. Instead, they had the best results when drivers listened to audio books.
The books gave them something to think about, staving off boredom. However, they didn’t require any eye contact — like talking to a passenger — or hand interaction. Drivers could still focus on the road, but the book gave them just enough stimulation to keep them awake and alert.
Press the “refresh” button
You may have felt the same way if you ever felt tired while driving. Odds are you rolled down the window, turned on the music or asked a passenger to talk to you. Maybe you did all three.
It’s a similar principle. You were searching for stimulation so that you wouldn’t fall asleep. You didn’t want something that went too far, but having nothing at all was actually more dangerous.
This isn’t the only study to expose the risks of bored driving. Back in 2011, Time reported that bored drivers ranked among the most likely to crash. It could even be more dangerous than aggressive driving, which is well-known to cause car accidents.
It’s hard to cure boredom. That daily commute is the same every morning and evening. Rural roads in particular grow very boring. This shows why serious accidents are so common and why everyone who takes a risk by getting on the local roads needs to know their rights.