Nearly three-quarters (74%) of drivers admit to using their mobile phone behind the wheel, one-fifth (20%) claim to send text messages and almost one-in-ten (9%) admit to using social media, according to a global survey from LeasePlan.
The Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that a driver impaired or distracted by their phone was a contributory factor in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014, including 21 that were fatal. Last month, the Government announced tougher sanctions for motorists caught using their mobile phone behind the wheel, including automatically receiving six points on their licence instead of the current three and on-the-spot fines will be doubled from £100 to £200.
However, out of the 17 countries and nearly 5,000 motorists questioned in LeasePlan’s MobilityMonitor survey, motorists in the UK appear to be more aware of the dangers of driver distractions. British drivers are least likely to use their mobile for social media behind the wheel (3%) compared to more than a fifth (22%) of motorists in the Netherlands who ranked the highest, followed by Hungary (14%).
Motorists in the UK are also the third least likely in the world – behind the USA (34%) and India (36%) - to use their phone for making calls whilst driving (43%), compared to Denmark (90%) who ranked the highest, closely followed by Sweden (89%) and Norway (88%).
Globally, 'Generation X' (those born between 1965 and 1981) drivers appear to see less danger in multitasking whilst driving, as around a fifth (21%) admit to sending a text or message at the wheel, in comparison to just 10% of 'Baby Boomers' (those born between 1946 and 1964) who claim to do the same.
Additional results from LeasePlan’s global MobilityMonitor Survey reveal that more than one-third (35%) of drivers admit to eating, with drivers from the Netherlands being the worst culprits (61%), 68% of drivers say they drink behind the wheel, 2% apply make-up, 5% read and 2% of Slovakian’s admit to shaving whilst driving.
The data, collected between April 21 and May 24 2016, was gleaned from 4,869 respondents across Europe, Australia, the USA and India.
One-fifth (20%) of those questioned in LeasePlan’s MobilityMonitor survey believe the use of a mobile phone whilst driving is the biggest cause of car accidents on the road.
Talking about the dangers of multitasking behind the wheel, Lesley Slater, LeasePlan UK’s operations and business development director, commented: “It is encouraging to see that UK drivers appear to have a higher level of awareness around the dangers of mobile phone use when driving, but studies continue to show that driving ability is clearly impaired if motorists do use their phone.
“The number of incidents now related to mobile technology and other distractions at the wheel, along with the number of people who chose to ignore current rules and laws, means that driver attitudes will have to change, particularly amongst younger people.”