Motorists avert attention away from the road 10 per cent of the time
A new survey suggests that motorists take their eyes off the road for around 10 per cent of the time they are behind the wheel.
Researchers from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland, placed a number of cameras in 150 cars and filmed driver behaviour over a 12 to 18 month period.
The results showed that motorists spend a proportion of time with their eyes clearly distracted from the road, focussing instead on eating, texting, calling and altering the stereo.
Bruce Simons-Morton, co-author of the study, told The Daily Mail: "Our data supports the current trend in implementing restrictions on texting and phone use in vehicles.
"Anything that takes the driver's eyes off the road can be dangerous."
Sensors and monitors within the car could precisely monitor the vehicle and alerted the scientists every time there was excessive acceleration, sudden braking, swerving and drifting out of a lane.
The researchers could then look at in-car footage and work out if the driver had been distracted prior to the erratic behaviour.
Results, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that generally, drivers had their eyes off the road for about 10 per cent of their time behind the wheel and that distractions increased motoring risk, especially in new or inexperienced drivers.
Around a quarter of participants had their driving licence for no more than three weeks, while the remainder of the field had held a licence for over 20 years.
For novice teenage motorists, the risk of a crash or near miss was raised eight times while dialling, seven to eight times when reaching for a phone or other object, almost four times when texting, and three times while eating.
Dr Simons-Morton said: "As new forms of technology increasingly are available in cars, it's important that drivers don't feel compelled to answer every incoming call or text."