“Driver attention is so critically important,” explains Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). But when someone gets used to doing something over and over again, such as driving down the same road at the same hour, they can become complacent and lulled into routine. And when there’s an unexpected change in that routine, that lack of focus can mean the difference between avoiding a collision and potentially causing one.
And then there’s the common misperception that we’re all experts at multitasking. But we’re not, shares Schmidt, who claims that it’s only by tackling one activity at a time that we’re capable of getting things done effectively – and safely. Juggling activities is not something to be proud of when behind the wheel, he reiterates. “You are putting yourself in jeopardy every time you take your attention away from driving.”
Our inability to multitask can have consequences. In 2017, 36 fatal collisions were directly attributed to distracted driving in Ontario and we’ve already seen 22 fatalities so far this year with the same attribution. Keep in mind, it’s difficult to determine cause and effect when it comes to inattentiveness, so the numbers may actually be higher.