9.2 million admit to using phones while driving

Published: 21 September 2017

As motorcyclists, we often see car drivers either swerving all over a lane or paying no attention to the road ahead because their face is lit up by their mobile phone. It’s become an all too common occurrence, despite the dangers being widely publicised.

Figures from the RAC have also revealed that 9.2 million motorists have admitted to using their mobile phones while driving, even after the increased penalties were introduced for doing so earlier this year.

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“The illegal use of handheld mobile phones when driving is a growing menace and a major threat to road safety” said Jason Wakeford, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity. “Research shows that using a phone at the wheel affects reaction times as much as drink driving, increasing the chances of a crash.

“As a society, we have become addicted to our mobiles, but a split-second distraction caused by a call, text or notification behind the wheel can be deadly. Drivers should always put phones on silent and out of reach in the glove compartment. The mobile phone industry must also play its part, including technology as standard which helps keep drivers' attention on the road, saving lives and preventing serious injuries."

Calls for 'driving mode' on phones

This has led to calls for manufacturers to include a driving mode as standard on mobile devices – something that Apple has introduced into its iOS 11 update.

The new operating system from apple features a ‘Do not Disturb While Driving’ mode that can be activated and will automatically detect when someone is driving – limiting the user from receiving calls, messages and notifications while behind the wheel.

It's not just the RAC climing high mobile useage

A seperate study by automotive repair company Kwik Fit has also revealed that 34% of car users are still using their phones while driving without a handsfree set. This has followed a 24% increase in the number of accidents that have been attributed to the use of mobile phones in the past five years.

“While car manufacturers have made great strides in improving safety, it is vital that drivers remember that they are the most important safety feature in the vehicle” said Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit. “Any form of distraction can have serious consequences, as sadly, the statistics clearly show.”

Kwik Fit survey

Younger drivers worst offenders

The survey found that younger and more inexperienced drivers were most likely to use their phones, despite the introduction of increased penalties four months ago. The punishment now means that if a driver is caught on their mobile phone within the first two years of passing their test they will lose their license.

There is also evidence to prove that phones are attributed as a contributing factor to a staggering 40% of accidents among drivers aged 18-24 years old. The number of fatal accidents per year that are as a direct result of phone use among drivers remains around an average of 22 deaths, however the number of accidents involving serious or slight injuries has seen a big rise.

Giggs also added, “It is especially important for inexperienced drivers to be fully focused on what they are doing. The fact that this report has found that younger drivers have less knowledge of the rules and are more likely to take risks means more needs to be done to educate them in the very first weeks and months of driving.”

Riders in London will need to remain extra vigilant as the study found that nearly half of all drivers admitted to using their phones while behind the wheel, with 47% of drivers freely admitting to using their phones without a handsfree. Drivers in the East of England are considered to be the most law abiding but there are still nearly a quarter of drivers who admit to using their phone.

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