New study shows the distraction effect of mobile devices whilst driving
A new study, produced by the Transport Research Laboratory on behalf of esure insurance, out today exposes the distraction and danger to drivers of just having a mobile phone in the car.
A fifth of participants in a simulator situation (20 per cent) moved their eyes from the road for more than seven seconds after simply hearing their phone ring.
The simulator study commissioned by esure car insurance reveals that motorists take 23 per cent longer to respond to an unexpected occurrence on the road when trying to send a text message while driving – which equates to the vehicle moving 8.5metres ‘blind’ while driving at 70mph.
This lag in reaction times proved larger than the increased reaction times of distractions of arguing children in the backseat (13 per cent) or feeling stressed (four per cent).
A worrying fifth of UK motorists (22 per cent) confess to having used their phone while driving, despite more than one in six (65 per cent) branding it irresponsible.
84 per cent of motorists use gadgets behind the wheel – with a third relying on sat navs (32 per cent), 34 per cent using mobiles devices and one in ten (10 per cent) fiddling around with MP3 players and iPods while driving.
15 per cent of those motorists surveyed admit to using a mobile or smart phone to find directions while simultaneously driving.
Off the back of the study esure has created a new mobile application for smartphones which can be downloaded for free and automatically blocks all visible and audible notifications to mobile devices while the car is in motion (travelling above 10mph) – ensuring drivers no longer have the temptation of beeps, flashing lights and elaborate ringtones.
The DriveOFF app, which turns off all other apps and stops incoming calls or texts, has taken six months to produce and aims to help save the lives of motorists and other road users who are involved in road traffic accidents due to technological distractions behind the wheel.
The simulator study further revealed that posting a short status update on, for example facebook – an everyday temptation to those with a smartphone – had various effects in driver performance mainly causing motorists to move across their lane to a greater extent (up to one metre more than in controlled conditions), being less consistent in following distance and driving closer to the vehicle ahead.
These decreases in motoring performance occurred despite drivers slowing down – proving that a reduction in speed does not offset the true dangers of being on a smartphone and the dangers of updating a social networking status.
A ringing phone out of reach causes motorists to look away from the road three times longer (2.2 seconds more) compared to standard driving conditions and four times as long when receiving a text message (1.8 seconds longer looking away from road).
Supporting research examined the attitudes and excuses for this behaviour, showing that a fifth (20 per cent) of motorists admit to feeling under work or time pressures to take a call, reply to a text or email while behind the wheel – proving that just having a mobile enabled whilst in the vehicle creates an unnecessary temptation.
Stuart Vann, Chief Executive Officer at esure, said:
“These findings are a real concern – so many drivers are putting themselves, their passengers and other road users at risk by simply having a ringing, beeping, flashing mobile in the car – even if they don’t answer it.
“The figures were high but I would not be surprised if they’re even higher in real on-road situations than in our simulator.
“Our DriveOFF app is based on clever technology, which disables the distraction that everyday mobile devices cause to motorists by preventing them from hearing any beeps or ringtones while they are driving.
“This study’s results speak for themselves. Distraction is a killer – something that we’re all too aware of as a leading insurer. We would urge all motorists to download it and help remove any temptations of checking or answering a mobile whilst behind the wheel.”
The DriveOFF app is available to download from Google Play for all Android devices and esure is currently urging Apple to allow the DriveOFF app to be accessible on the iPhone – helping keep more motorists free from dangerous distractions and safe behind the wheel.