Studies show that around a quarter of crashes are caused, in part, when the driver is distracted.
Also drivers who are distracted because they’re doing something else at the wheel are two to three times more likely to crash.
More complex secondary tasks like talking on a mobile phone or checking social media increase the chances of crashing even more.
Did you know?
The crash risk remains higher than normal for up to 10 minutes after your call has finished.
If you’re driving and using your phone you will have slower reaction times and difficulty controlling speed and lane position.
Hands-free vs. hand held
It’s easy to believe that talking on a hands-free kit at the wheel is safe, because hands-free use is still legal in the UK.
However, hands-free calls can cause almost the same level of risk as hand-held calls; the reason is that it is the conversation that is the main distraction, not holding the phone.
But what about passengers who are chatty?
Is there a difference between talking hands free to having a passenger talking to you? It seems there is! It’s suggested that while drivers on phones have much longer reaction times and poor speed control, drivers with chatty passengers perform nearly as safely as drivers with silent passengers. It’s partly because conversations with passengers come to a natural pause when approaching hazards, as the passenger can see when the driver needs to concentrate.
Is it the addiction that feeds your distraction?
You may recognise this - reaching for a mobile phone can be an irresistible temptation, despite knowing how risky it actually is. In the UK, experts have suggested we’re being increasingly addicted to our smartphones with many people unable to go without checking their phone for short periods or even through the night.
Even the sound of a mobile phone ringing has been found to cause distraction and increase crash risk.
Many people are looking at ways to remove that temptation – are you? What can you do to avoid the distraction of your phone? Ask yourself - Are you phone safe when you drive?
You could begin by looking at forming new habits. It’s a known fact that it’s easier to form a new habit than to break an old one.
There are new habits you could try like:
- Deactivating your hands-free kit?
- Could you put your phone on message service while driving?
- Try storing your phone in the boot or out of sight and reach.
It is about removing the temptation.
Another thing you could consider for making your journey safer: As a pedestrian, are you phone safe near roads?
Whilst mobile phones offer convenience and safeguarding, including use in emergencies, there is a need to balance it with the risks of distraction. Mobile phone use reduces situation awareness, increases unsafe behaviour, putting pedestrians at greater risk for accidents, and crime victimisation.
As many people look to remove distraction when they drive, pedestrians are also looking at forming new habits:
- It’s always best to be alert, looking out for traffic.
- If you're talking on the phone, it might be better to stand still or call them back – your life is more important than the conversation.
- Be aware of your surroundings – your music or social media could distract your attention away from the sound of oncoming vehicles or sirens
- Be aware that you don’t have the right of way and that cars will stop for you when you cross.
Drive safer – save money!
It might be worth considering opting for an insurance company that offers ‘black box’ technology, which effectively monitors your speed, braking and cornering.
This monitors how safe a driver you are and in return, helps you save money on your insurance. It’s a good incentive to drive safely.