Daydreaming is very risky for motorists
Posted Thursday, September 26 2013 at 01:00
Have you ever found yourself distracted while driving? Maybe you are thinking about that beautiful woman you saw at Garden City or you are thinking about how you are going to pay for your Masters degree or that cool 46-inch TV you saw at LG. Either way, whether or not you realise it, you are driving on the road distracted. It happens to all of us.
Driving the same familiar stretch of road beckons the mind to start wandering. But is driving while daydreaming putting you at serious risk of an accident? Ever seen a driver bump into a car in front of him and there’s really no apparent reason why that happened? Day dreaming, my friends.
Because millions of sensations bombard us every second, the brain sorts through them to allow only the most important ones to become conscious, for instance, you don’t notice what is in your peripheral vision unless something moves there. It is just the way the brain evolved to protect it from being distracted.
If it allowed too many sensations to get through, we would be paralysed by the massive sensory overload. The downside to this is that your mind has a narrow attention span, so it likes to wander, a lot. Daydreaming can’t be eliminated, only minimised. What is sneaky about daydream driving is that you may feel totally aware of your environment but be out of conscious contact with it, you are on auto pilot so to speak. You are not really seeing what you are looking at.
For example, most of us know the sensation of suddenly snapping to attention during a long stretch of highway or getting home from a drive and not remembering parts of the trip. Indeed, an emergency can throw you back to full awareness, but your reaction time and sense of perception will suffer when you are not paying full attention.
How can we deal with daydreaming while driving?
To keep alert, interact with your surroundings by imagining “what-if” scenarios. What if that oncoming car crosses over? What if that truck ahead suddenly stops? All those what-ifs you are visualising feed your brain with valuable information to keep you alert.
As a matter of fact, you sort of construct better accident evasion plans than the one you have imagined should a similar event actually happen.
Keep your eyes moving. Change your gaze every so often say every three seconds. Any longer and you tend to stare, which induces mind wandering
Try different driving routes when possible. Driving the same long route is boring, and your mind is more prone to wander when it encounters the same repetitive conditions.
Simply put, we get used to things, and when we do, they are no longer important to us.
Just take the necessary steps to remove or reduce distractions, whether they are those over which you have control, such as turning off the radio, or those for which you will need help, such as dealing with emotional issues.