Mobile phones distract one quarter of drivers

Mobile phones distract one quarter of drivers. 25th February 2014

It may be illegal to use a mobile phone without a hands free kit, but that doesn't seem to be stopping a number of drivers from getting distracted by theirs when behind the wheel.

According to a survey of approximately 1,500 drivers by the Institution of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and Vision Critical, mobile phones have been known to cause 24 per cent to take their eyes off the road. Additionally, checking social media updates and texting distract a further ten per cent of drivers, with this figure rising to 23 per cent for those aged between 18 and 24.

The penalty for using a mobile phone when behind the wheel is three penalty points on the driver's licence as well as a £100 fine. Following this, the case could go to court, where the vehicle user could face disqualification from driving and get a fine of up to £1,000. For bus and goods vehicle drivers this fine could rise to £2,500.

It is legal to use a mobile phone while behind the wheel of a car if the vehicle is parked or if the driver needs to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and they are unable to stop safely.

Using a mobile phone while driving is one of a number of distractions that have caused drivers to crash in the past. According to the IAM survey, nine per cent of drivers admitted that they had crashed in the past due to their attention being diverted. Police statistics also show that distractions, including mobile phones, factored into the cause of 105 deaths on the road in the last year.

Chief executive of IAM Simon Best said: "People who think they can multi-task while driving are kidding themselves. If you take your eyes of the road for just two seconds at 30 miles per hour, you’ll travel close to 90 feet, effectively blind.

All drivers develop bad habits over time. The key to reducing distractions and their impact is to learn  to look upon your driving as a skill that needs continuous evaluation and improvement."

Yet the most major cause of distractions on the roads is children, with 29 per cent of drivers admitting that this was the most likely factor to turn their attention from the road. When broken down by region, this statistic rose to 32 per cent in the North and Midlands, 31 per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber and 30 per cent in London and the East. However, it fell to 24 per cent in the South-West.

Changing the radio station also proved to be a distraction for 27 per cent of drivers. Back seat drivers averted the attention of 26 per cent, using the Sat Nav was problematic for 15 per cent and attractive pedestrians, drivers or passengers caught the eye of 14 per cent. The percentage of drivers who admitted being distracted by good looking people rose to 23 per cent for men while it fell to three per cent among women.