Distracted Drivers Are Causing Death And Serious Injury Says Report

Mon 11th Feb 2019

A new white paper published by road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has revealed that deaths from distracted drivers are on the increase.

With more and more technology fighting for our attention at every stage of daily routine, it is no surprise to learn that even when driving we can get distracted by digital devices.

The Department for Transport figures show that there has been an 11% increase in deaths caused by distracted drivers in the period of 2007 to 2017, with the same percentage increase for serious injuries. But the statistics are even more alarming when looking at those deaths and serious injuries caused by a driver using a mobile phone. There has been a 59% increase in deaths and 39% increase in serious injuries by those driving with a mobile phone.

These issues were brought to the fore in 2017 by IAM RoadSmart, with their study at the time saying: “Being distracted can make drivers less aware of other road users [...] and less observant of road rules such as speed limits and junction controls. The emergence of mobile and in-vehicle technology in particular has prompted much recent concern about driver distraction.”

Whilst it is not just technology which is distracting us behind the wheel, children in the car was the No.1 distraction in the most recent IAM RoadSmart study, but changing the radio channel, mobile phone calls and Sat-nav all featured highly on the list of the report published in 2014, and a similar survey published in 2017 showed that programming the sat-nav was the worst distraction for drivers.

Tim Shallcross, IAM RoadSmart head of technical policy, says: “Those warning screens about not entering details on the move are there for a reason. Don’t ignore them.”

And with Sat-nav and mobile phones battling for attention within the driving environment, one leading professor has called for mobile phone use to be banned all together, even hands-free.

Dr Graham Hole, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Sussex says: “The problem with any mobile phone conversation is that it takes the driver out of the loop. It puts them into a different world, whether they are talking on a hands-free system or not. Many phone conversations involve mental imagery [...] which competes with the same brain resources as here-and-now real-world vision, needed for driving.”