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Keeping the Driving Mind Focused

In Flagstaff, on July 27, a brand-new Subaru was given away in a raffle. The price of the entry? Just pledging not to text and drive. This was the third year the “It Can Wait NAZ” program has given away a car and other prizes to encourage people not to text and drive. It is that important to stop distracted driving.

One of the motivations for this local program is three-year-old Zaadii Tso, who was killed by an inattentive driver on Feb. 22, 2015. For more information, check out the Zaadii Foundation.

Nationally, in 2013, approximately 1.2 million auto crashes were caused by a driver talking on a cell phone, and at least 341,000 were the result of texting while driving.

High school students, who reported frequent texting while driving, are less likely to use seatbelts, more likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking and are more likely to drink and drive.

Even if all the other external distractions – texting, emailing, talking, smoking, eating, drinking, reading, putting on makeup etc. – were eliminated, there is still basic mind function to consider.

Human minds are inherently poor at focusing on routine tasks like driving alone on a familiar commute and/or monotonous route. In a study that asked drivers about their most recent trip (that did not result in an accident), about 85% experienced “Mind Wandering” that occupied about 35% of the trip. In that study, mind wandering was described as “an inattentional state caused by a shift in attention from the ongoing task to inner thoughts.”

Another study utilized simulated driving for 20 minutes, twice a day, on a “monotonous stretch of straight highway at a constant speed.” The subjects’ minds were found to wander upwards of 70% of the time as determined by electrical brain monitoring. The subjects, however, were only aware about 65% of the time that their minds were wandering.

There are techniques that can help increase awareness and focus. The easiest and fasted way to make driving safer is to eliminate unnecessary distractions, like texting.

The very generous and caring sponsors of It Can Wait NAZ are: Great Circle Media, CARSTAR, Flagstaff Subaru, Niles Radio and We Care Northern Arizona. To find out about the suicide awareness and prevention mission of We Care Northern Arizona and their extensive list of help and crisis lines, visit wecarenaz.org. FBN

By Don Berlyn

Don Berlyn, PT, CHT, is a hypnotherapist at Flagstaff Hypnotherapy. He can be reached at flaghypno@gmail.com or 928 699-8263. For more information, visit flagstaffhypnotherapy.com.

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