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Dangerous Driving: Motorists & Their Mobiles

October 16, 2015

  • 13% of drivers use their mobile behind the wheel
  • Smartphones blamed for a rise in road fatalities
  • 31% of Europeans text and drive

A photo posted by Liam Butt (@liam786) on

The automotive industry is a hot topic right now, with the government rolling out new laws and the VW emissions scandal still on the nation’s lips. In a previous post, we discussed the controversy surrounding lighting up behind the wheel – and today, we’re putting dangerous driving in focus as we ask: what is the real cost of using your phone behind the wheel?

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A not-so-secret obsession

Car finance

In recent years, smartphones have grown in popularity – and it seems that users would rather communicate through their phones than have a real life conversation. From using them during working hours and taking them to the bathroom to checking them during dinner and even sleeping with them, smartphone users can’t get enough of their trusty tech.

With the number of smartphone users on the incline, the obsession with our mobile phones looks set to grow – and in our recent survey of dangerous driving habits, 13% of drivers admitted to using a mobile phone while driving. Despite the dangers, it seems we just can’t get enough of our mobile phones – and the outcome is worrying.

Talk isn’t cheap

on the phone

So what’s the real cost of talking while driving?

Since 1st December 2003, driving while using a mobile phone has been illegal – but figures from 2014 showed a spike in road traffic accidents, and mobile phones were placed in the firing line. While last year’s figures caused concern, little progress has been made in reducing the stats – and following a fall in traffic police, 2015 has also seen a dramatic rise in road deaths.

Motorists can now invest in a phone holder for car calls, hooking it up to their hands free technology and allowing them to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. And for added assistance, there are a number of driving safety apps designed to help drivers stay focused – so why are so many insistent on tinkering with their smartphones?

The temptation to check-in

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When it comes to road safety, concentration is key – as even a split-second distraction can be fatal – but despite numerous warnings and shocking ad campaigns, up to 31% of people across Europe still text and drive. Alarmingly, it’s not just texting that is driving our attention away from the road – as tweeting, posting to Facebook and even adding a story to Snapchat is becoming increasingly common among motorists.

From checking-in at restaurants to posting shots of our pets, every area of our lives is now documented on our phones – and it seems the obsession with our smartphones is filtering into our driving habits. A shocking number of drivers are unable to make a short trip without checking their social media channels – so it seems that talking on the phone while driving is not the only temptation offered up by our smartphones.

With rumours rife surrounding what we can and can’t do with our phones behind the wheel, just how clear is the law? It’s illegal to use your phone when:

  • Your vehicle is in motion
  • You’re at traffic lights/stop signs
  • You’re in queueing traffic
  • Your engine is running
  • You’re supervising a learner driver

The only instance in which drivers are permitted to use their mobile phones behind the wheel is in a state of emergency, when it’s impractical or unsafe to pull over.

So despite being clued up on the ins and outs of dangerous driving, as the next generation of smartphone savvy users take to the tarmac, road safety doesn’t look set to stabilise any time soon.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.