22nd November 2016
Over one in ten drivers admit to using a phone at the wheel, survey finds
Over one in ten (12%) drivers admit to using a phone at the wheel, a new survey from Roadsense, has revealed.
Roadsense, which was recently acquired by Trakm8, surveyed 3,376 people* across the UK in order to explore the public’s attitudes towards using a phone at the wheel.
6% of drivers said that they think it is acceptable to use a phone at the wheel, while 12% of respondents said despite whether they think it’s acceptable, they do it anyway. Amongst those who do not use a phone at the wheel, almost one-third (32%) said that they have done so in the past.
The government has recently announced that the penalty for being caught using a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel will be increased from three points to six, meaning that just two offences could result in a driving ban. The penalty fine will also be doubled from £100 to £200 and can be as high as £2500 for HGV drivers. Interestingly, almost one in five respondents (19%) admitted that they do not know what the current criminal sanctions are for using a mobile phone at the wheel.
Those who admitted to using their phone at the wheel were asked what activity they most use their phone for whilst driving. Nearly half (46%) of respondents said that phone calls and texting were the activities they use their mobile phone for the most. Over a quarter (27%) primarily used their devices as sat navs, 21% for listening to music and 6% for social media.
Mobile phone users were also asked which of the following would be most likely to make them stop using their phone whilst driving. One-third (33%) said that being involved in an accident caused by using their phone would be enough to make them stop.
28% confirmed that having passengers in the vehicle is enough to make them stop using their phone at the wheel. Just under a quarter of participants (23%) suggested that higher levels of enforcement would make them stop while 16% agreed that the introduction of heavier punishments would do the job.
Amongst law abiding drivers, the danger mobile phone use poses to other road users and pedestrians came out as the top reason for what deters them the most with a reassuring 82% of respondents agreeing that this was the case.
Over one-tenth (11%) of drivers don’t use their phone at the wheel due to the dangers it poses to themselves, 5% justified their choice through the fear of criminal sanctions and 2% admitted that they do not want to run the risk of damaging their vehicles.
Roadsense, which conducted the survey, is the UK distributors of CellControl’s DriveID product, which is designed to stop mobile phone use amongst drivers of commercial vehicles and young drivers.
DriveID allows fleet managers or parents to block certain apps such as music, social media, and texting while a vehicle is in use. Phone calls to emergency services, however, can be made at any time.
In last month’s Fleet Safety Survey** results, conducted by Brake, only 4% of fleets surveyed make use of apps to prevent mobile use behind the wheel.
Mobile phone use behind the wheel is a major cause of distractions. Last month saw HGV driver, Tomasz Kroker, jailed for 10 years after he changed the music on his phone whilst travelling on the A34. His decision led him to plough into stationary traffic, killing four family members and injuring another.
John Watkins, Executive Chairman of Trakm8, said:
“These statistics show that there is still an extremely long way to go in putting a stop to using phones at the wheel. The government’s plans to increase the punishments for the offence are welcomed however these changes will not work without education and preventative technologies becoming more commonplace in our society.”
“Phone blocking technologies are an excellent way for businesses to ensure that their drivers and other road users are protected on their behalf.
Devices like DriveID are also great for parents of new drivers to ensure that their children’s eyes remain focused on the road ahead.”
“Parents and fleet managers are in control of what functions can be used on the phone whilst the ignition is turned on. For example, you may want to lock down the phone entirely but allow the use of a sat nav system. Calls to emergency services are always available.”
Kevin Clinton, Head of Road Safety at of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said:
“This survey shows that we still have a long way to go to convince many people that using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous. It is also unnecessary. Drivers can switch off their phone and let it take messages, and return messages, make calls or send texts when they have stopped in a safe place.”
“A substantial body of research shows that using a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone while driving is a significant distraction, and substantially increases the risk of the driver crashing. “
“Drivers who use a mobile phone, whether hand-held or hands-free:
- are much less aware of what’s happening on the road around them
- fail to see road signs
- fail to maintain proper lane position and steady speed
- are more likely to ‘tailgate’ the vehicle in front
- react more slowly, take longer to brake and longer to stop
- are more likely to enter unsafe gaps in traffic
- feel more stressed and frustrated
“They are also more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves and other people.”
*The study was conducted amongst 3,376 visitors to 5 websites owned by the Trakm8 Group.
** Information from Fleet Safety Survey 2015, Part 1: Technology. The survey was conducted amongst 138 fleet managers, 131 of whom were UK-based. Respondents manage nearly 26,000 vehicles and 40,000 employees driving for work. Report can be found at: https://www.licencebureau.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/16-10-12-fleet-survey-report-technology.pdf