A survey conducted has revealed the ten biggest driving distractions on the road. While food and drinks remain the biggest distraction for motorists, technology is becoming an increasing presence in cars, with texting and even updating Facebook profiles appearing in the top ten.
The top ten distractions
The increasing presence of technology is in evidence on the list of biggest distractions. It appears that while the improvements in our technological capabilities over the past couple of years have been impressive, motorists now have to start taking advantage of this in a responsible manner:
1. Food and drink – A Facebook group has recently been set up for people who eat their breakfast while on the way to work. This is likely to become very popular, with the MoneySupermarket.com survey revealing that 51% of drivers admitted that their driving had been compromised at least once by their decision to eat/drink while behind the wheel.
2. Music – 61% of motorists surveyed admitted that they had been distracted while driving by their radio, CD player and even their iPod. The prospect of motorists flicking through songs on their iPod while driving is perhaps of particular concern.
3. Made/taken phone calls – Despite television advertising campaigns warning of the dangers, and financial penalties issued by police to people committing the offense, 23% of drivers admitted that they had made or received phone calls while driving.
4. Slowed down to look at an accident – We have all done it at one time or another, but 21% of motorists admitted to have slowed down to have a look at an accident which has occurred involving other motorists. Of course, this means that the motorist takes their eyes off the road ahead, risking an accident and is therefore not advisable.
5. Sending a text message – If you frown upon the 23% of drivers who have admitted making or receiving calls while driving, then you will likely be disgusted with the 16% of motorists who have admitted texting rather than focusing on the road.
6. Seat belt usage – It has been proven that seat belts significantly reduce the chance of motorists who are involved in road accidents sustaining serious injuries. Despite this, 15% of drivers admitted driving without a seat belt. This may not be a distraction in the normal sense of the word, but if a driver is found to be driving without a seat belt they would still be charged with driving without due care and attention.
7. Sleeping/dozing – Amazingly 5% of drivers admitted to having fallen asleep or dozed off while behind the wheel. Government campaigns have been launched to discourage motorists from driving while tired, with a number of Travel Lodge’s now offering cheap accommodation for a couple of hours for motorists to rest before continuing their journey.
8. Cosmetics – If you thought that the idea of drivers having their breakfast while driving to work was a bad one; then consider that 5% of motorists admitted to applying make-up, perfume or lipstick while driving.
9. Updating Facebook – The newest range of smart phones do not just make calls and texts, they also enable users to access their social networking accounts. Apparently 2% of drivers take advantage of this while driving, remarkably admitted to updating their Facebook profiles while behind the wheel.
10. Tweeting – Social networking site Twitter also made it onto the list, with 1% of drivers admitting to having tweeted when driving.
A criminal offense
Motorists with a valid driver’s license must be responsible while behind the wheel, both for the safety of themselves and others. This is true in whichever part of the world you live in.
In the US, laws on distracted driving are subject to state laws, as well as the implementations and punishments associated with it.
As summarized by the Governors Highway Safety Association or GHSA, there are three types of statewide laws related to distracted driving across the country. These are:
Handheld Cellphone Use. This prohibits all drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws. This means that an officer may cite a driver for using a handheld cellphone without any other traffic offense taking place.
Currently, 24 states, as well as D.C., Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands implement this.
All Cellphone Use. There is no state that bans all cellphone use for all drivers. However, there are 37 states, as well as D.C. that ban all cellphone use by first-time drivers, 23 of which (and D.C.) do not allow school bus drivers to use a cellphone when driving.
Meanwhile, Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban in 2007, and currently, 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have passed their own texting ban. Most states have primary enforcement on this (except for three). In addition, there are two states without an all driver texting ban, and one of which prohibits text messaging by first-time drivers.
If you want to check the distracted driving law within your state, this interactive chart from the GHSA website will be very helpful.
Distracted driving is considered one of the most dangerous causes of accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it has claimed over 3,142 lives in 2019 alone. This is 8.7% of all fatalities related to road accidents that year and represents a 9.9-percent increase from 2,858 in 2018!
Failure to adhere to this will result in a conviction of driving without due care, which usually results in an Â£60 fine and three drivers points being added to the offender’s license.
Recent statistics revealed that on average, 16,485 drivers are found guilty of breaking this law in Britain every year.
However, car insurance companies hand out the biggest punishments for drivers who break this law, as motoring offenses such as this usually result in car insurance premiums rising by as much as 30%.
This is due to insurers recognizing the increased statistical likelihood of motorists with driving convictions to their name claiming their insurance policy. These price increases are of particular concern to young drivers under the age of 21, who are now regularly being quoted car insurance premiums of over Â£2,000.
Peter Harrison, the MoneySupermarket.com car insurance expert, has urged motorists to avoid irresponsible behavior while driving at all costs, so as not to be handicapped by these financial penalties: “Although it may be unintentional, careless drivers are a menace on the roads and are a danger to both themselves and others.
The penalties for this kind of behavior are huge and can impact the cost of your insurance premiums. Not only are these bad driving habits, but also expensive habits if you are caught – it isn’t worth taking the risk.”