Lexus is looking to open some people’s eyes by taking away their view.
Toyota’s luxury unit is the latest automaker to highlight the dangers of distracted driving during Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Lexus created a video showing the dangers of distracted driving.
Established by the National Safety Council (NSC) more than 10 years ago, it gives safety advocates, federal regulators and automakers a chance to shine a light on the dangers of not being focused when behind the wheel. Lexus decided to show drivers what can happen when a driver texts or talks while holding a phone as they drive. In fact, it took them a little more than 4 seconds to show the potential impact — literally in most cases.
“Lexus wants to bring awareness to safety behind the wheel by changing perceptions about texting and driving,” said Vinay Shahani, vice president of Lexus marketing. “Even the most advanced safety systems on the road today can’t replace the undivided attention of the driver.”
4.6 seconds is a long time
Transportation safety expert Alex Epstein noted that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when people check texts on their phones, their eyes are off the road for 4.6 seconds. To demonstrate just what that means to the average driver, Lexus set up an obstacle course for drivers to navigate in an otherwise empty parking lot.
Participants in the exercise had stay within the cones that defined the course while avoiding styrofoam obstacles shaped like cyclists and deer, among other things. The drivers didn’t know Lexus outfitted the special NX 4.6 (for 4.6 seconds) with electrochromic glass for all the windows.
Also called smart glass or dynamic glass, it is an electronically tintable glass that changes from clear to opaque instantly when activated. So at some point during the test drive, the glass was activated for 4.6 seconds so drivers and passengers could not see out of the vehicle.
A vehicle travels the length of a football field in 4.6 seconds when it is traveling at 55 mph, Epstein said. Unsurprisingly, the drivers hit many of the styrofoam obstacles during those 4.6 seconds.
The demonstration of driving distracted really caught the attention of test drivers. Before the drive, they did admit to looking at their phones “for one or two seconds” at the most.
After the demonstration, they vowed to keep their eyes on the road and not read or sent texts.
Too many drivers don’t keep eyes on the road
Both the NSC and AAA recently put out information detailing the dangers of distracted driving.
“The frequency of drivers in the United States engaging in improper behavior is too high,” said David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
“While drivers acknowledge that certain activities behind the wheel — like texting, are dangerous, some do them anyway. We need to be aware of the serious consequences of engaging in these types of dangerous driving behavior and change course.”
The group’s most recent foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which highlights the gap between drivers’ attitudes and their reported behaviors, found that drivers perceive distracted, aggressive and impaired driving as dangerous.
Yet many of them admit to engaging in at least one of these exact behaviors in the 30 days before the survey. The numbers were even higher for those involved in a recent crash, including:
- 50% of those involved in a recent crash admit to talking on a hand-held device while driving in the past month vs. 42% not involved in a crash.
- 43% of those involved in a recent crash admit to texting while driving in the past month vs. 27% not involved in a crash.
- 39% of those involved in a recent crash admit to running a red light in the past month vs. 30% not involved in a crash.
This data shows that people are not altering their behavior even when it has resulted in a crash. AAA pointed out that distracted driving often results in the same deadly consequences as drinking and driving.
It found that “taking your eyes off of the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of being involved in a crash.” Those collisions have a wide range of repercussions, often more involved than the drivers realize.