As we are all undoubtedly aware, using a mobile phone while driving is illegal and can be a lethal distraction behind the wheel. But somewhat worryingly, a small percentage of motorists still think it isn’t a big deal.
In this year’s RAC Report on Motoring, more than 1,500 drivers were asked about mobile phone usage and other critical safety issues. While the vast majority of people (83 per cent) said it was unacceptable to take even a short call with a hand-held phone while driving, 12 per cent believed this was perfectly reasonable.
The survey also found that almost three-quarters (73 per cent) think it isn’t safe to use a phone to text or check social media while in stationary traffic, while 17 per cent felt this poses little danger.
Safety concerns among motorists
Of the most significant issues of overall concern to motorists this year, drivers that use their mobile phones to talk, text, or browse the Internet was top of the list among 34 per cent of people.
Although nine in 10 drivers (86 per cent) also think that modern cars are much safer than in the past, only 37 per cent believe today’s motorists are more safety conscious. This is backed up by the fact that 41 per cent feel driving safety standards are lower than previous years.
“The behaviour of other drivers ranks very highly as a concern,” said David Davies, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS). “Mobile phones are top of the list but other devices, such as entertainment systems, can cause distraction.”
Road safety statistics
In June 2015, the Department for Transport published figures that showed a small increase in the number of road accidents in 2014. The number of deaths and serious injuries on the road also went up compared with the previous year by 4 and 5 per cent respectively.
This could be explained by the rise in road-traffic volumes, which went up by 2.4 per cent last year. However, the extent in which modern distractions such as smartphones and sat-navs have contributed to accident rates is rather difficult to judge.
Even so, fleet managers and decision makers must be resolute in their approach towards mobile phone usage behind the wheel. In addition to higher insurance premiums from penalty points, this distraction has the potential to cause more accidents with devastating consequences too.