• It’s Not Just Texting While Driving Anymore

In 2012, the Institute of Advanced Motorists performed a study on the use of smartphones while driving. The end result showed that it is more dangerous to use a smartphone while driving than it is to drive with a legal amount of alcohol in your system or when under the influence of THC (marijuana).

This month, the IAM performed another study. This time they asked 500 drivers about their use of smartphones and tablets while driving. The study showed that 9 percent of people admitted to taking a selfie while driving in the last month, 8 percent said they used video calling apps, and 19 percent said they accessed and used the internet. Of those who admitted to taking selfies while driving, 5 percent were women, and 12 percent were men.

Results were also broken down into different age groups. Of those aged 18 to 24, 15 percent admitted to selfies, 16 percent admitted to video calling, 13 percent watch streaming videos and 27 percent accessed and used the internet. Those aged 25 to 35 proved even higher numbers: 19 percent have snapped pictures of themselves; 34 percent have watched streaming video, and 34 percent have browsed the internet.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

This study proves that distracted driving is becoming a major issue, and I suspect as time goes on it will get even worse. Our inability to put down the phone while driving has even led automakers to progressively add more and more integration between smartphones and on-board entertainment systems.

The new laws don’t seem to be working as well as they should – penalties for using a phone while driving dropped by 40 percent in 2014.

It has also been the cause of the increasing number of laws against distracted driving and the use of technology while driving. The new laws don’t seem to be working as well as they should – penalties for using a phone while driving dropped by 40 percent in 2014.

Just recently, New Hampshire, U.S. passed a law that bans the use of any hand-held device while driving – you can’t even pick up your phone unless you’re parked. Officials in the State of Minnesota claim that distracted driving has topped speed as the No. 1 cause of traffic fatalities within the state. The problem isn’t limited to the U.S. either. Cape Town in South Africa has a policy that allows police to confiscate devices used when driving. They have maintained an average of 3,155 confiscations a year over the last three years.

Bottom line: it’s time to put down the phone people. I know we are wired to communicate and programmed to share every moment of our lives, but don’t risk my life while you’re doing it. If you can’t wait to take that picture or send that text, pull it over. It only takes one ill-timed glance to change your life or the life of someone else forever. Technology is supposed to help us, not kill us off. Perhaps we should provide extremely harsh penalties before it is too late. What do you think?

Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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Press Release

New research by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) reveals the shocking extent to which drivers use their phones and tablets to take selfies, make video calls and watch videos while driving.

The findings come from research commissioned this month exclusively by the IAM, which asked 500 drivers how they use their smartphones and tablets in the car. (1)

Results show that nine per cent of drivers admitted to taking a selfie while driving ‘in the last month’. This increases to 15 per cent of young drivers aged 18-24 and 19 per cent of 25-35 year olds. Women are less selfie obsessed than men, with just five per cent of women citing they have taken a selfie while driving compared to 12 per cent of men.

Eight per cent of drivers admitted to driving while using a video-calling application such as FaceTime and Skype to make and receive video calls, rising to 16 per cent among 18 to 24 year olds.

An IAM study in 2012 showed that using a smartphone while driving is more dangerous than driving at the legal alcohol limit or when using cannabis. Drivers have much slower reaction times, difficulty staying in the same lane and are less able to adapt to even slowly changing circumstances. (2)

IAM’s chief executive officer, Sarah Sillars said: “Everyone knows how dangerous using a smartphone or tablet is while driving. That’s why it’s shocking to see new trends like taking selfies and making video calls becoming common practice.
“Safe driving is everyone’s responsibility and more must be done to catch drivers using these devices dangerously by increasing the fines and points for smartphone and tablet use at the wheel – there is simply no excuse.
“Campaigns must also be introduced that raise awareness of the prevalence of the issue in society and make this behaviour socially unacceptable as drink-driving”.
Other findings include:

Seven per cent of drivers admit to watching videos and stream catch-up television on the road, rising to 13 per cent of drivers aged 18-24 and 15 per cent of 25-32 year olds.

Eighteen per cent of drivers have accessed the internet using their smartphone or tablet, rising to 27 per cent of drivers aged 18-24 and 34 per cent of drivers aged 25-34.

Despite this, the number of drivers given penalty points for using a smartphone at the wheel fell by more than 40 per cent in 2014. (3)

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