Social media and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) could be putting road-users at risk, as motorists admit to checking social networking sites and reading messages on their phones while driving. As a result, The UK Department for Transport reported nearly 500 incidents last year¹ involving the driver using a mobile.
- 50% of those who used their mobile behind the wheel have answered a call without a hands-free kit
- A quarter of drivers who check their phones are on Facebook while driving
- One in eight drivers have uploaded a photo or video on their mobile behind the wheel
- Over a third (37%) of drivers keep their phones in their pockets
What are drivers doing on their mobiles?
|Reason for using phone while driving||Proportion of drivers across all ages who admitted to using app / function||Proportion of drivers aged 18-24 who admitted to using app / function|
|Answering a call (not hands-free)||21%||27%|
|Sat Nav (e.g. Google Maps, Apple Maps)||17%||26%|
|Messenger app or texting (e.g. Messages / WhatsApp / Facebook Messenger / Viber)||16%||40%|
|Email (e.g. Gmail / Apple Mail / Outlook)||12%||25%|
|Web browser (e.g. Chrome / Safari)||7%||16%|
Sgt Neil Dewson-Smyth from Cheshire Police²
“Any use of a mobile phone whilst driving is dangerous. Even a hands free call is a distraction and recent studies support this. The livestream behaviour, for me, adds additional load on the driver. Holding the phone, reading comments and performing all mean the driver is focused far too much on what they are doing and who they can entertain or impress and not on their driving. That puts them, passengers, other drivers and pedestrians at hugely increased risk.”
“Some statements suggest that to look away from the road, read a comment, look back and regain full awareness takes about 5 seconds. At 40mph the distance covered is equivalent to the length of a football pitch.. blindfolded. Some are looking at their phone so often that, based on this 5 sec rule, they may never regain full awareness before they are looking back at their phone. This suggests situational awareness is completely diminished.”
Dr. Lee Hadlington, Senior Lecturer at De Montfort University
“Any individual who has a smartphone has the potential to be distracted by smartphone technology – the answer to this question is perhaps a lengthy one – app notifications drive individuals into the ‘push economy’ (that’s my term) where we are constantly being sent new updates etc – most individuals will keep these on for important things like communications and social networking, so when they get a message they want to respond quickly”
“Anyone who does more than one thing at any time runs the risk of losing focus on one or both tasks”
About the research
A survey was conducted online by ICM Limited on behalf of Aviva between the 10th-13th June 2016 with 2,021 respondents of whom 1,565 were drivers. Out of 1,565 drivers surveyed, 655 admitted to using their mobile phones for reasons other than hands-free calls, equating to 42% of drivers polled. For the purposes of the survey, ‘driving’ is classified as including being stationary in traffic while the engine is on.
¹ Contributory factors to reported road accidents 2014, Department for Transport. Method is based on reported factors from accidents attended by Police Officers
² Sgt. Neil Dewson-Smyth works with Cheshire Police, and also runs his own independent campaign called #dontstreamanddrive. This campaign aims to highlight the dangers of drivers filming and photographing themselves while driving, potentially leading to a fatal road accident.