Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, we have noted with concern a number of
accidents whose primary cause is inattention. Driver inattention poses a
considerable threat to road safety, not only for drivers, but also for other
road users. According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) first quarter Road
Traffic Accidents Analysis Bulletin, approximately 47.16% of crashes that
occurred during the first quarter of 2023 were caused by driver inattention.
Thus, clearly, driver-inattention-related crashes have become a major concern
to road safety policymakers.
inattention can be defined as insufficient, or no attention, to activities
critical for safe driving. It can also be described as mismatches between the
driver’s current resource allocation and that demanded by activities critical
for safe driving. As Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, we remind you that driving
requires full concentration. Anything that takes the driver’s eyes, ears or
mind off the road – whether it be their phone, their passengers or even their
lunch or refreshments – increases the chance of being involved in a crash.
inattention can be categorised into five subtypes, namely; Driver Restricted Attention
(DRA), Driver Misprioritized Attention (DMPA), Driver Neglected Attention
(DNA), Driver Cursory Attention (DCA), and Driver Diverted attention (DDA). DRA
describes circumstances where attention is limited due to physical or
biological factors. DRA is technically defined as insufficient or no attention
to activities critical for safe driving brought about by something that
physically prevents (due to biological factors) the driver from detecting (and
hence from attending to) information critical for safe driving. This category
of inattention is brought about by functional limitations of the driver that
prevent him/her from attending to activities critical for safe driving. In this
case, road safety experts cite microsleeps, blinks and saccades as examples of
functional limitations that can result in a driver missing critical information
during moments of change blindness. Another instance of DRA is that of a driver
who dozes off momentarily, with eyes closed, and hits a pedestrian crossing the
street ahead. Should a driver experience any of the foregoing as T.S.C.Z we
urge them to park and refresh even for a few minutes.
be defined as insufficient or no attention to activities critical for safe
driving brought about by the driver focusing attention on one aspect of driving
to the exclusion of another, which is equally or even more critical for safe
driving. Here, inattention arises because of the inability of the driver to
distribute attention effectively between multiple driving activities which are
ongoing, both of which may be, almost equally, critical for safe driving. For
example, a driver looks over their shoulder while merging onto a roadway and
fails to see a lead vehicle braking. Another example pertains to a driver who
focuses on avoiding an animal and fails to see another vehicle.
dimension of inattention is DNA which is defined as insufficient or no
attention to activities critical for safe driving brought about by the driver
neglecting to attend to activities critical for safe driving. Here, inattention
arises from faulty expectations about the driving situation, resulting in insufficient
or no attention to activities critical for safe driving. A case in point is
where, a driver neglects to scan to the left or right for approaching trains at
a railway level crossing, because s/he does not expect trains to be there.
Another example is that of a driver approaching an intersection with right of
way and therefore neglects to look for conflicting vehicles, resulting in a
collision with red light runner.
forth dimension of inattention is DCA which is when the driver attends
superficially to activities critical for safe driving. It can be defined as
insufficient or no attention to activities critical for safe driving brought
about by the driver giving cursory or hurried attention to activities critical
for safe driving. For example, a driver performing familiar driving manoeuvre
allocates insufficient attention in searching for information and fails to
detect an oncoming vehicle.
DDA refers to the diversion of attention away from activities critical for safe
driving toward a competing activity, which may result in insufficient or no
attention to activities critical for safe driving. DDA is synonymous to driver
distraction, and can be defined more succinctly as the diversion of attention
away from activities critical for safe driving toward a competing activity,
which may result in inattention. Researchers such as Regan et al. (2011)
argued that competing activities can be internal to the mind (for example, as
when day-dreaming), internal to the vehicle (for example, talking on a cell
phone) or external to the vehicle (for example, reading an advertising
is evidence that both young novice drivers and older drivers (that is, 55 years
and older) are particularly vulnerable to the effects of driver inattention.
For young novice drivers, this is due to the fact that they have not yet
mastered many driving tasks and have less spare attention to devote to other
tasks. Studies conclude that older drivers are more vulnerable to the effects
of distraction because they have less cognitive ability to switch between
competing tasks, therefore they require more glances at mobile phones and other
devices to read information. In recognition of their vulnerability, in
Zimbabwe, Section 116B (1) of Statutory Instrument 199 of 2002 states that no
person shall use a mobile phone whilst driving.
is a complex behaviour that requires multiple tasks to be performed not only
simultaneously, but also effectively. Driver inattention produces errors and
can cause failures in performance while driving. It has become one of the
primary causes of motor vehicle collisions in Zimbabwe. During this month of
August 2023, the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe conducted the Heroes and
Defence Forces holiday road safety campaign, whose theme was “The Road Is a
Shared Space, #Save Lives”. The theme speaks volumes with regards to the need
to avoid inattention while driving.
First. There Is No Second Chance.
by TSCZ, Operations Research and Marketing Section
Readers can contact
TSCZ on the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org