Millions of motorists risking lives by taking selfies behind the wheel, road safety charity claims.
Number Of Drivers Using Mobile Phones
The motorists that took selfies while driving in the last month totalled 9%, the Institute of Advanced Motorists claimed. The most prolific age group – the safety charity said – was 25 to 35 years with 19% offending. The survey also showed that 12% of men took selfies compared to 5% of women. But smartphones and tablets do more than take pictures. 8% of drivers made a video call via services such as Skype. The 18 to 24 year age group was the worst offender (16%). Also, 7% watched videos or television with 25 to 32 year olds the most prolific (15%). Finally, 18% used the internet to (say) read/write e-mail. Most offenders were aged 25 - 34 (34%).
The Institute of Advanced Motorists Chief Executive, Sarah Sillars said: “Everyone knows how dangerous using a smartphone or tablet is while driving. That’s why it’s shocking to see new trends like taking selfies and making video calls becoming common practice.” She added: “Safe driving is everyone’s responsibility and more must be done to catch drivers using these devices dangerously by increasing the fines and points for smartphone and tablet use at the wheel – there is simply no excuse. Campaigns must also be introduced that raise awareness of the prevalence of the issue in society and make this behaviour socially unacceptable as drink-driving”.
Dangers Of Using Mobile Phone While Driving
The road safety charity claimed that from 2006 to 2010 mobile phones were a contributory factor in 1,690 collisions that caused an injury. This included 110 fatalities. Furthermore, its recent study concluded that using a phone behind the wheel is “more dangerous than driving at the legal alcohol limit or when using cannabis”. The study involved 28 participants – male and female - with experience of using Facebook via a phone. It required them to operate a driving simulator so their performance could be monitored. Participants completed 1 drive to learn the system, 1 as control, and 1 using a mobile to check messages and update status.
The Institute claimed the results showed the participants were impaired by the smartphone. There was a “significant impact” on: time spent looking at the road, reaction times, lane position and speed. When using Facebook, participants spent 40% to 60% of their time looking down compared to 10% without the device. Reaction times to visual and auditory stimuli increased by 37.6% and participants “often missed events completely”. The subjects were “unable to maintain a central lane position” and also failed to “respond as quickly” to a vehicle that gradually changed its speed.