THE DANGERS of driving while distracted by a mobile phone or smart watch are already well documented. But in this video, such hazards are made plain to see, when two young drivers are challenged to drive while using their phones – and end having crash after crash.
In the film, the drivers drift across lanes on a motorway, crash into the back of a stationary car and even smash head-on into a double-decker bus. Fortunately, the tests are conducted on a specialist simulator.
Despite the risk of a six-point fine and £200 fine, drivers continue to operate their phone in the car. The study of the habits of 1500 drivers, conducted by The Car People, showed that receiving a phone call (31%), an incoming text (21%), and checking their phone for directions (20%) were the things most likely to distract drivers.
However, the research revealed that it’s drivers aged 25-34 that have the most difficulty putting their phone down, with more than three quarters (77%) admitting it distracts them while driving. This group confessed that taking phone calls (40%), using their phone for directions (38%), changing music (23%) and texting (18%) distracted them the most whilst driving.
Some 25 to 34-year olds even admitted to being distracted by taking photos (12%) and looking for selfie opportunities when driving (8%).
And 10% of this group of motorists admitted to having driven through a red traffic light – because they were looking at their phone rather than focusing on the task of driving.
Ryan Robbins, Senior Human Factors Researcher at Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), who conducted the driving simulation said: “It is difficult to do two things at once well, but when one of those things is driving it is virtually impossible.
“Most of us drastically overestimate how well we can drive, even when we are concentrating fully, and the evidence is clear that when we are distracted our driving is considerably worse.”
Driving.co.uk has previously highlighted the dangers of mobile phones and even put the latest menace for drivers to the test – smart watches.
In our own tests, performed together with experts in road safety at TRL, we found it took an average of almost three times longer (2.52 seconds) to react to a hazard while reading a message on a watch than while talking to a passenger (0.90 seconds).
In another test, use of a smartwatch resulted in the user veering out of their lane four times and being forced to take evasive action twice to avoid a collision.
Professor Andrew Parkes, the TRL’s chief scientist, said communicating remotely with someone was intrinsically more distracting than speaking with a passenger. The fact the person on the other end of the phone could not see the traffic — known as “social cluelessness” — meant the driver had to work harder to keep control of the car and hold the conversation.