New study shows UK drivers take their eyes off the road EVERY NINE SECONDS

New eye-tracking study claims drivers spend 18% of their journey not looking at the road, and take their eyes off the road every nine seconds.

man using phone while drivingA common response given by drivers after causing a collision on the road is “I didn’t see you”, and a new study using eye-tracking technology claims that drivers not looking at the road or checking their blind spot is the cause of 28% of all road traffic accidents.

The study was carried out by Direct Line, who said that drivers not looking has been the cause of up to 11 million crashes on UK roads. Failure to check the blind spot plays a big part in this, as does the ease with which drivers allow themselves to be distracted and stop looking at the road ahead.

Direct Line said that almost a fifth of drivers (18%) have been involved in a car accident with another vehicle because their eyes had drifted away from the road – either due to boredom or a distraction. Another 10% of accidents are caused by drivers who failed to carry out the relevant blind spot checks over their shoulder before manoeuvering.

The study involved a survey of 2,005 UK motorists, and found that 24% of men have caused a crash because they weren’t watching the road ahead, while 11% of women admitted to causing a crash because they took their eyes off the road.

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In order to analyse drivers’ level of concentration, Direct Line commissioned a study involving psychologists and human-computer interface experts who measured the length of time drivers spent looking at the road – and how long they spent looking elsewhere. They used eye-tracking technology on 100 UK drivers and found that they were not looking at the road for 18% of their journey on average – which is the equivalent of looking away from the road every nine seconds.

The dangers of drivers not paying attention to the road are even more pronounced when the other party involved in a collision is a cyclist or pedestrian rather than another driver. According to the study, three million drivers have been involved in an accident with a cyclist or pedestrian because they took their eyes off the road when they should have been paying attention.

The eye-tracking technology found that drivers failed to identify 22% of the cyclists they encountered on the road – despite them being in clear view on the road ahead.

Nick Reid, the head of automotive technology at Direct Line, said of their results:

“Letting our eyes drift away from the road while we drive or not checking our blind spot before manoeuvring is dangerous at best and potentially fatal at worst. 

“We urge drivers to consider not just themselves but other road users and pedestrians when driving, as ‘I just didn’t see them’ is not a valid excuse for any collision. 

“While nothing should replace driver vigilance, increased take up of driver assistance technologies such blind spot detection, pedestrian and cyclist warning and automatic braking systems could help reduce the number of unnecessary accidents on our roads.”