Myth: Drivers Need to Stay Focused

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

This is not a new video. It is from an Edmunds session in June. However, it had only 119 views since it was uploaded. This video is required watching when you talk about distracted driving. Or when you have kids. If you love them, give them Call of Duty. And you’ll be amazed when she talks about the “Schumacher of the road” part.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Ciddyguy Ciddyguy on Sep 18, 2011

    A very interesting concept and while this is not a new idea, the fact that she even acknowledges that beyond the 2 extremes, there is a bell curve of people who stay focused on the task of driving and those who can not. That being said, making cars that dull one's senses to the road and what the vehicle is saying isn't helping people be better drivers outside of being less worn out at the end of a very long trip, or so they say/think to be the case. I've found that driving cars that provide at least SOME road feedback and are comfortable to be in for long hours, makes the drive actually more enjoyable and less tiring because I'm more engaged in my surroundings and what the car is doing and watching the gauges to ensure I don't overheat etc when going over major mountain passes, such as the Sysciou mountains into California (although I went over that range around 9AM or so) but the Tejon pass into the Grapevine later in the day was another matter after going through the San Joaquin Valley in I think near 100 Degree heat. Saw a video last night over on Top Gear of 2 cars, the Nuevo 500 and the current one (Euro spec) and the guy doing the drives basically said that one of the things that makes the original car so good is how it forces you to engage in it, it forces you to be busy all the time, scanning the road, planning ahead, compensating for its 13.5HP (or was it a final 16HP?)2 cylinder motor etc as the early cars at least didn't have a syncromesh gearbox so you had to match your revs in order to shift smoothly, all of that forces you to be engage with the car. Now, perhaps that's a bit too much of a good thing for some people but a car that engages the driver more may well be less fatiguing and boring which then leaves the driver in a semi comatose state and thus not paying attention to his surroundings and his driving may be an answer. Which means, we also have to examine the proliferation of multiple infotainment systems, the use of touchscreens and pulling our attentions to their operations when a simple knob is sufficient and much more expedient to regaining one's attention back onto the road ahead. That said, some technologies such as the USB port and a thumbdrive is a great way to minimize the need to change music in a fashion that is cumbersome and often causing a great deal of distraction while the driver hunts for the CD or tape and swaps them out and then finds a spot for the ejected media and that is where technology should be employed, this way, either by a few simple clicks of the steering wheel controls or a voice command, voila, the music is changed without any additional attention necessary other than a moment or two to execute the simple command. Now to make searching music MUCH easier via voice command so you can simply call up say, Never Can Say Goodbye, Gloria Gaynor and it'll go right to it and begin playing.

  • Mitchw Mitchw on Sep 18, 2011

    How will you ever get young drivers not to take risks? If they're males forget it. How about that mom in the minivan who's on the phone and doesn't see me about to pull into traffic? Gals got to talk.

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    • ClutchCarGo ClutchCarGo on Sep 19, 2011

      "How will you ever get young drivers not to take risks?" I think that the only thing that would work is a recording device that uses GPS and accelerometers to keep track of driving behavior, downloadable by parents via USB, with appropriate penalties for bad behavior. The basic components are not expensive, so if widely used the systems should be reasonably priced for most families, and many parents would even be relieved if govt or insurance companies required them for new drivers.

  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Sep 18, 2011

    It's a very complicated issue. But there might be some merit in bringing the "video game" element into driving. For example, in some driving games you get points for recklessness. A lot of new cars have fuel economy gauges. I find when I drive them I work to keep the gas mileage as high as possible. Why not take it further? Incentivize staying within a decent range of the speed limit... staying within a certain distance of other cars... starting + stopping smoothly... staying within one's lane, yadda yadda. These are the kinds of stimuli our generation has grown to know, so maybe it makes sense to integrate them into cars to make us better drivers. It's a pretty novel idea.

  • James James on Feb 19, 2014

    My tip - caffeine helps my focus when driving long distances. Coffee and or diet coke. It doesn't help if I am overly tired though. Then it's time to get off the road.