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Two Seconds Limit

Why two seconds is your limit; expert warns of driver distraction danger

Drivers are being warned to keep their eyes on the road and not on the information displays and instruments in their cars.
If they glance away from the road for more than two seconds – just two seconds – they increase the risk of an accident, a leading safety figure has told Independent Motors.
Globally, distraction is regarded as a major cause of accidents. The plethora of information, connectivity and displays, especially on newer cars, are being widely blamed for the problem.

Volvo’s top safety adviser, Jan Ivarsson, told me how his brand now configures instruments/displays so the information can be garnered, or instructions carried out, within that two-second time-frame.
He revealed that extensive research has shown how spending longer than that (checking speed, time, radio channel changes, sat nav etc) raises the risks of an accident.

Speaking to him during the launch of Volvo’s new XC60 in Barcelona, and without being confrontational, I felt compelled to tell him that I believed most people would struggle to meet the ‘two-second’ time limit if they were being honest about it.
He admitted that distraction is, and will likely be, a major challenge for automakers due to the high, and growing, the level of connectivity and interplay between driver, displays, and communications.

Mr Ivarsson appealed to motorists to have their systems “set up” before they start driving so they are not fiddling with buttons at speed. He also urged them to pull in safely off the road if they need to do anything at all with the way their displays, instruments etc are set – to avoid critical loss of driving attention while on the move.
The following figures may help put the ‘two-second-rule’ in sharper relief.

If you are traveling at 100kmh for two seconds with your sight and attention diverted you will cover more than 55 meters of the road completely unsighted (100kmh = 27.777777777778 meters/second).
But what about the second it takes for your eyes to travel from road to display?

And the second it can take to refocus?
It could be four seconds in total. That’s 220 metres – more than a fifth of a kilometre – of being unaware of what is happening outside.

* Do you think people spend longer than two seconds with their eyes off the road?