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Daily Insurance Industry News
Monday 24th of September 2018
September 30, 2011

Young drivers inseparable from smartphones

by Gill Montia

Story link: Young drivers inseparable from smartphones

Department for Transport proposals for increasing the speed limit on motorways to 80mph in recognition of improved vehicle technology should also take account of new figures on in-car distractions, as set out in the RAC’s 2011 Report on Motoring.

According to the RAC, the problem of smartphone use amongst drivers aged 18 to 24 years has reached “staggering” new levels, with music, email and mapping apps the main distractions.

Almost half of the young drivers questioned admitted using their mobile while driving in the past year, with the most common need for music (24%), followed by emails (23%) and Google maps (22%).

A further 15% said they talk to friends using Blackberry Messenger or similar services, whilst behind the wheel.

Fifteen percent tweet when on the road, while 8% even admitted to playing games on their smartphones.

Texting is also a growing problem, with over 20% of young drivers admitting to texting while driving in the 2011 survey, compared with 14% in 2010.

Yet drivers overwhelmingly agree that using a phone behind the wheel is dangerous (82%), and one quarter of drivers questioned consider mobile phone usage a bigger issue than drink driving.

Motorists also have strong opinions on how to tackle in-car phone usage, with only 10% believing the current system of punishment works well.

Two-thirds of respondents want to see a ‘3 strikes’ rule whereby drivers caught using their phone three times would lose their licence for a year.

RAC motoring strategist, Adrian Tink, comments: “The popularity of smartphones and apps, especially among younger drivers who’ve grown up with the technology, risks creating a new generation of drivers who believe using a phone behind the wheel is acceptable. This has to change.”

He adds: “At 70mph your car travels around the length of six double decker busses every two seconds – if someone told you to close your eyes at that speed for that length of time you’d think they were crazy – yet people are doing virtually the same thing by taking their eyes of the road to look at phones.”

Mr Tink also notes that while a quarter of motorists now believe mobile phone use behind the wheel is on a par with drink-driving, the offence still lacks the taboo of drink-driving.

 

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