World News: Crashes more likely on familiar roads, says Norwich Union

World News:  Crashes more likely on familiar roads, says Norwich Union

According to Norwich Union's motor risk manager, Bill Pownall, many drivers fall into a “comfort trap” when driving on familiar routes.

He said that this may well be because the journey has been completed so many times that the driver becomes an 'automatic driver' – seriously reducing the percentage of attention normally devoted to driving.

One of the consequences of driving on “auto-pilot” is the delayed recognition of – and consequent delayed reaction to – a potential accident situation.

Whilst conducting a risk evaluation for a large distribution fleet in East Sussex, Pownall found a clear trend in the company’s vehicle accident insurance claims.

More than 80% of the crashes occurred in the first and last hours of the working day, mainly within a twenty-mile radius of the depot – where the drivers were on familiar roads.

Working with the company, Pownall was able to consult with the drivers, who in the main admitted to paying far less attention and being much more complacent about their driving when they were on "home soil".

As well as driver awareness training, other solutions put forward were varying routes in and out of the area, altering shift times and routing drivers on a rotational basis, which led to a dramatic decrease in claims.

Pownall says that it is difficult to accurately measure the impact that 'automatic driving' has on road safety in general, as many other factors are often linked to crashes.

While recent research suggests that lack of concentration at the start of the day and tiredness towards the end are also factors in road crashes, occurrences show that driving on familiar roads makes the situation even worse, where drivers may become complacent and tempted to take more risks.


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