- Flashing and beeping phones distract a quarter of motorists -
Friday 30th March 2012: New research out today reveals that mobile phones are posing a constant danger - with nearly a quarter of motorists (23 per cent) admitting to being distracted from the road ahead by the constant flashing light or the beeping sound made by their mobile phone(1).
According to the study by Sheilas’ Wheels car insurance, two thirds of motorists (66 per cent) purposely keep their phone within arm’s reach while behind the wheel so that they can take a peek when it flashes or beeps. In fact, over a million(2) Brits have had a near miss or accident while doing this.
Two thirds of motorists surveyed (64 per cent) admit to regularly checking their phone while behind the wheel with over half (51 per cent) admitting to making phone calls whilst driving and a further 59 per cent even text and drive.
A leading psychologist has revealed that flashing or beeping phones are as detrimental to a motorist’s concentration as a baby crying or a person screaming out in pain in the car.
Behavioural Psychologist Donna Dawson said: “We react instinctively to flashing lights and ringing bells as part of the ‘fight-or-flight’ syndrome that protects us against perceived dangers. Any intense, repetitive sight or sound will put us on high alert and it becomes impossible to ignore.
“This automatic reaction has been further engrained in us by man-made sounds such as wailing sirens, so that we now react with the same degree of urgency and panic to a ringing phone or mobile device.”
One in seven (15 per cent) motorists have surfed the web while driving to post an update onto a social networking site. Worryingly, more than four per cent of those surveyed (1.3 million)(3) have updated their twitter status while driving.
As part of the research, Sheilas’ Wheels analysed tweets over the course of one week(4) and found more than 30 direct references to people tweeting while driving.
A selection of tweets posted whilst driving:
• looking at my previous tweets its really a bad idea to tweet and drive i cant spell for nothing and auto-correct don't make it better
• Texting / tweeting and eating tacos while driving is hard. But I got it.
• Tottenham to Devon in a day. Much as I love the contrast I'm not looking forward to the 6 hour drive! Delirious car journey tweets 2 follow!
• Maybe I shouldn't be tweeting and driving in the rain.
• The new iPad made it easier to tweet and drive. I can speak into it and it dictates everything I say
• Don't mind me. Just tweeting to keep from falling asleep at the wheel.
• Driving 90km/h while eating mash potato while tweeting. #mylasttweet
Almost half of motorists surveyed (46 per cent) wrongly thought that talking on the phone while driving was legal but an even more worrying one in 12 motorists (eight per cent) thought that the law did not cover using the phone or a tablet computer for accessing the internet. Despite it being illegal, 14 per cent even said they thought it was a ‘legal grey area’.
Jacky Brown at Sheilas’ Wheels car insurance said: “With advances in technology and the rise in mobile phone applications available, motorists are being increasingly distracted whilst behind the wheel – especially as constantly updating friends and family on what we’re doing is now becoming the norm.
“Our advice to motorists is to remove this temptation altogether by switching off all mobile technology before driving to ensure focus solely remains on the road ahead rather than the flashing light or beeping sound of a mobile.”
A third of Scots surveyed (33 per cent) have been distracted from the road because their phone has beeped or flashed, which is the highest figure recorded for any region polled. More than one in eight Londoners (14 per cent) have had an accident or near miss because they have been distracted by their phone whilst driving – this compares to just three per cent of people from Yorkshire.
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Notes to Editors:
(1) Sheilas’ Wheels used the independent online research company FlyResearch who surveyed 1,008 Brits aged 18 and over, between 2 and 5 March 2012. FlyResearch is an online market research company. Its researches are members of the MRS, PRCA, BPC and Esomar, and abide by their guidelines. Further information is available at www.FlyResearch.com
(2) 1,364,000 is an estimate based on four per cent of the total UK motoring population based on DfT Transport Statistics, which show that there were 34,100,000 motor vehicles currently licensed in 2010
(3) 1,364,000 is an estimate based on four per cent of the total UK motoring population based on DfT Transport Statistics, which show that there were 34,100,000 motor vehicles currently licensed in 2010
(4) Monitoring of twitter took place between 20 and 27 March 2012 by searching for direct references to tweeting while driving through common keywords, which included: ‘tweeting driving’ ‘tweet drive’ ‘tweeting behind wheel’ and ‘tweeting at wheel’