40% of drivers are blind


Imagine you are driving through congested traffic navigating power outages, law breakers and the general chaos associated with peak hour driving in South Africa. Now imagine that almost half the drivers navigating these challenges with you are all driving blind. According to statistics, on average, 40% of drivers at a given time are on their phones.


The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says the phenomenon of inattention blindness occurs when drivers use their phones while driving. “A large portion of the drivers, or if drivers are willing to be honest, they themselves, are driving over 90m every so often with the same attention and vision capabilities of someone wearing a blindfold. A sobering thought.


“A driver experiencing inattention blindness can look straight at a stop sign or pedestrians but not consciously register those items or individuals at all. Additionally, this distraction continues for a few seconds after one puts the phone down again. The question that needs to be asked, do you want to either be a driver like this or share the road with such a driver?”


These statistics are not new or unknown. “MasterDrive itself, shares each of these statistics regularly in the drive to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. Yet, continuing research on the topic by the World Health Organisation suggests that the growth in the use of cellphones in cars increased by up to 11% across a number of countries in the last five years.


“Thus, drivers are aware of the danger, yet persist. For this reason, MasterDrive investigated new technologies to assist with this challenge. We consequently entered into a partnership with the creators of the ping app which reads messages out loud for you. Drivers can continue with the task of driving while still receiving essential communication from colleagues and family members,” says Herbert.


ping co-founder Barrie Arnold says the struggle to ignore one’s phone, even for a limited period, was a major motivation in the creation of the app. “In our ‘always-connected world’ messages continue to stream in even when driving. We all know the dangers of distracted driving, yet 88% of drivers risk it anyway.


ping is a patented voice-based app that eliminates the ‘urge’ to check phones by automatically reading WhatsApp, SMS, email and all other messages out loud, so drivers can stay focused on the roads. Drivers reduce the stress of not knowing and avoid the frustration of missing a message that could change their plans. Save time, money and lives with MasterDrive and ping,” says Arnold.


MasterDrive is actively encouraging the uptake of this technology. “It effectively balances the need to constantly have access to one’s device with the importance of road safety. The Mrs South Africa contestants were the latest to receive their subscriptions to ping. We look forward to working with those who understand just how important it is to take a stand against distracted driving,” says Herbert.


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