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The danger of glancing away from the road for too long

As young drivers, we all learned the basics of driving. Essentially, putting our hands at the 10:00 and 2:00 positions and keeping our eyes on the road ahead. Indeed, some glances away from the road were acceptable. After all, we were taught to check our blind spots before changing lanes, and we should pay attention to our speed so that we can adhere to speed laws.

In these lessons we may have never learned the true reasoning behind them; but a recent report may put them in the proper context. Essentially, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently recommended that glances away from the road should be limited to two seconds or less. 

Researchers who studied driver interruptions found that drivers who kept their eyes on the road with limited and quick (i.e. less than a second) glances were more likely to see and react to hazards; whereas drivers who took longer glances were less likely to be able to react to the same hazards. Moreover, drivers who looked away longer were not aware of such hazards.

With the reality that more drivers are being subject to interruptions, particularly through cell phone use while behind the wheel, it is increasingly important for drivers to make sure to limit looks away from the road. To put this into context, a car travelling at highway speeds can travel almost half the length of a football field in two seconds. So every other time you look away from the road, you could be missing a hazard that could lead to an accident

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