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Last 7 Days

by Matt Brogan

The increasing functionality of mobile phone technology, coupled with a growing addiction to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, are driving motorists to distraction now more than ever before, with motorists openly admitting to breaking the law by ‘tweeting’ behind the wheel.

According to new research out today by UK firm esure car insurance, nine per cent of motorists questioned are using mobile internet services and social networks whilst driving to tweet, text and update their Facebook profiles.  

Disturbingly, esure found that an average of 52 motorists per day are even flaunting their dangerous use of social media behind the wheel with one person even stating, “(I’m) driving with my knees and peeling an orange…Probably not the safest thing to be doing.”

The use of any mobile internet services and social networks whilst driving can have potentially fatal consequences as drivers are distracted from the road ahead.

A selection of driving ‘Tweets’ from the past week:

  • “Driving with my knees and peeling an orange…Probably not the safest thing to be doing.”
  • “Driving school bus”
  • “Irresponsible twitter driving woo!”
  • “Driving up to Newcastle while we Tweet!”
  • “Driving home in the rain…almost crashed!”
  • “Trying my best to stay awake while driving”
  • “Awake, hungover, and driving”
  • “Is it wise to use Twitter while driving? Probably not”
  • “Intoxicated driving. Let’s hope this works out”
  • “Twittering and driving…”

Whilst the research shows 92 per cent of UK motorists know it is illegal to use their hand-held phone while driving, 45 per cent of motorists openly admit to breaking the law by texting and making calls while driving and, with tens of thousands of mobile phone applications widely available, it seems that motorists are finding it increasingly difficult to resist the urge to reach for their mobile devices whilst driving.

Findings from the research also revealed that 48 per cent surveyed believe that any form of alert or light emitted from a device such as a mobile phone or Blackberry is very distracting while driving; 37 per cent polled find mobile alerts too difficult to ignore while driving; 19 per cent of motorists questioned have rummaged through a handbag, glove box or pocket to locate a mobile phone while driving; 51 per cent of drivers asked fail to put their phones on silent when driving; just 19 per cent of Brits admit that when driving they completely turn off all mobile technology.

“There is a time and a place for social networking and it certainly isn’t when driving a car. Messages being posted on Twitter from behind the wheel are a real cause for concern for the safety of other motorists and pedestrians,” said Mike Pickard, Head of Risk and Underwriting at esure car insurance. “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.”

And on the gender divide? Female motorists find mobile technology more distracting than male motorists when driving, with 50 per cent admitting that they find incoming beeps, alerts, vibrations etc very distracting while driving compared to 46 per cent of male drivers.

But more male motorists admit to having broken the law by answering calls while driving, with 29 per cent confessing to doing so, whereas just 25 per cent of female drivers admit to having done so.