Mobile phones causing more problems on the road than ever

Using a mobile device while driving is illegal.

Using a mobile device while driving is illegal.

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More than 86 per cent of UK motorists think distraction caused by mobile phones has become worse in the last three years, according to a study commissioned by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart.

Of the 2,000 UK drivers surveyed, nearly three quarters believed aggressive driving (72 per cent) had worsened over the last three years, with more than 60 per cent reporting the same for drug-driving.

Technology is the biggest challenge

IAM RoadSmart’s Safety Culture Survey was produced for the first time last year, and looks at UK motorists’ safety attitudes and behaviour and has just been updated for 2016.

The survey asked about the potential car driving problems faced by motorists now compared to three years ago, perceived threats to personal safety whilst driving, support for potential new regulations and many other aspects of motoring life in the 2010’s.

Huge numbers of UK drivers believe the dangers of mobile phones and technology are bigger threats than any other factor on the roads.

Some 94 per cent saw drivers checking or updating social media as a threat to their personal safety, while 93 per cent said that was the case for drivers text messaging or e-mailing, and for 91 per cent it was the case for drivers talking on mobile phones.

This was higher than the perceived threat from drink and drug driving. Some 89 per cent of those surveyed felt people driving after drinking alcohol was a threat to their safety compared to 88 per cent who felt that about those who took illegal drugs and then drove.

“But it wasn’t me”

And those surveyed thought the problems were caused by others; 91 per cent said they had never used the internet whilst driving in the past 30 days, 88 per cent had not sent a text or email whilst driving, 82 per cent had not read a text message or email whilst driving and 79 per cent had not talked on a mobile phone.

There is also huge approval for stricter measures to prevent and reduce drivers using mobile technology in cars.

Some 97 per cent of those surveyed strongly supported a law outlawing reading, typing, or sending a text message or email while driving; 86 per cent strongly supported the regulation of in car technology to minimise the distraction to drivers and 67 per cent strongly supported a law prohibiting the use of any type of mobile phone while driving, hand-held or hands-free.

And nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) agreed that all drivers be encouraged to improve their driving skills by taking advanced driving tuition and passing an advanced driving test.

Smart motorways

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart chief executive officer, said: “The worries and concerns of Britain’s 32 million drivers should be listened to. Whilst we can all take more responsibility for our actions it is clear that distraction and congestion are the two biggest bugbears for drivers today.

“New road building and smart motorways will help with congestion but our survey has shown that UK motorists have real concerns about the way mobile phone technology could be a threat to their safety. More than 90 per cent say checking social media, texting and talking on mobile phones whilst driving scares them – these are figures that cannot be ignored.

“It is important that Government, road safety bodies and car makers work together to allay the fear caused by distracted drivers. Recent tragic high profile cases - underline the need for a combination of education, safe design and enforcement to make sure that the high-tech benefits of our modern cars do not prove a threat to safety of all road users.”