A person behind the wheel of a 4WD is far more likely to be wielding a mobile phone while driving, and less likely to wear a seatbelt, researchers say. The research has concluded that four-wheel-drive owners take more risks because they feel safer.
But that distorted logic is a threat to the safety of everyone on the road, says Lesley Walker, a research associate with Imperial College London's primary care and social medicine department.
The study found the 4WD drivers were almost four times more likely than car drivers to be using a mobile phone, and 26 per cent more likely not to wear a seatbelt. Describing four-wheel-drives as "lethal weapons", the researchers said the findings were relevant to Australian cities, where large 4WDs were common.
"Although 4WD vehicles are safer in a crash, their owners may be placing themselves and other road users at increased risk of injury, they take the risk because they are higher up, they feel they can see better … but the person in a car or the pedestrian on the road has a much worse outcome."
Previous studies from the US, Britain and Australia have shown that using a mobile phone while driving is associated with a fourfold increase in the risk of having an accident. That means drivers of four-wheel-drives are 16 times more likely to have an accident than other drivers because they are four times more likely to use a mobile while driving.