Driver Distraction: From a UK Perspective

Thursday, 13 February 2014

UK survey finds four out of ten drivers not concentrating…..Are we doing any better in Australia?

Driver distraction is a major issue around the globe and a recent survey shows that it’s a problem that isn’t going away.

Only sixty per cent of UK drivers concentrate when they are behind the wheel, according to a poll by IAM/Vision Critical of nearly 1500 drivers.

However, there is good and bad news in these findings.

The good news is that older drivers are much less likely to lose concentration while driving. Seventy-three per cent of over 65 year-olds say they concentrate on the road all of the time that they are driving.   Twenty-six per cent said that they concentrate most of the time.

The bad news is that 50 per cent of younger drivers aged 18-24 admit to not concentrating on driving 100 per cent of the time.  Not far behind, 47 per cent of 24-34 year olds admit to not concentrating.

Nearly a quarter of drivers (24 per cent) say that simply daydreaming was the most common reason for not concentrating. Among 18-24 year-olds the figure is 30 per cent.

Other reasons given for not concentrating include stress (22 per cent), thinking about what you will be doing when you arrive (21 per cent) and thinking about family, friends and personal relationships (21 per cent).

In the North East and in Wales, 64 per cent of drivers, said they concentrate all the time.

If you intend to do any driving in London then be extra careful. The study found that  Londoners are most likely to be distracted while driving, with forty-seven per cent admitting to not concentrating one hundred per cent on the road.  Yorkshire and Humberside, the South West and Scotland were not far behind with 46%.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “Signs of not concentrating such as missed turnings or uncancelled indicator lights are commonplace.  Simply not concentrating is a key cause of crashes yet it is not borne out in statistics because drivers rarely admit to it in police reports or on insurance forms.”

“These results reconfirm stereotypes surrounding younger drivers and the ease with which they can be distracted away from staying safe.  The key is to build up as wide a range of experiences as possible as you learn and to look upon your driving as a skill that needs continuous improvement.”

But if you think these findings only apply overseas, then think again.

Data from naturalistic driving studies suggest that up to 22% of car crashes and near crashes and 71% of truck crashes (and 46% of near crashes) involve, as a contributing factor, distraction from non-driving related activities. The use of hand-held devices was found to contribute to 7% of those car crashes and near crashes.

Inattention in the broader sense has been found to be a contributing factor in 78% of car crashes and 65% of near crashes.

It has been estimated that 55% of all known sources of distraction are avoidable (61% of sources from within the vehicle and 31% of sources outside the vehicle).


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