Young drivers text and use apps while driving: ingenie

12.00 | 25 November 2013 | | 2 comments

In a new survey of young drivers, more than half of respondents admitted to reading text messages or using apps while driving.

The survey, which was conducted for the insurance firm ingenie, was published to coincide with Road Safety Week. ingenie has also launched its own young driver campaign called ‘Don’t drive distracted’.

The survey of 1,000 young drivers found that while 89% of respondents said they “get annoyed” when they see someone else using the phone behind the wheel, 50% admitted to using their own phone to read text messages while driving, and 37% admitted to sending text messages when behind the wheel.

In addition, 75% of respondents admitted they often or occasionally use mapping apps on their smartphone to get directions while driving, as a substitute for sat-nav. Significant numbers also admitted to using other mobile apps while on the move including Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter.

By contrast, far fewer respondents (16%) admitted to regularly taking calls without a hands-free system.

Three-quarters of those surveyed also said they often felt distracted when they had a car full of passengers.

Quentin Willson, the presenter of motoring programmes, said: “These figures serve to underscore the simple fact that more must be done to educate inexperienced young drivers about the dangers of being complacent on the road.

“Being distracted behind the wheel, even for just a split second by a text message, can have life-changing or even fatal consequences. I would like to see the Government doing more to teach our children about the dangers of the road in school at a younger age.”


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    Intersting points Rob. I think there’s something in the ‘social norms’ argument. Although I don’t tend to like sweeping generalisations – many of us are just like sheep. If we think that everyone else is doing something then we’ll do it too or conform to the ‘If everyone else thinks it then it must be true……’ state of affairs.

    Perhaps this is even more likely in our younger more easily influenced road users?
    Would the statement “89% of people just like you find it annyoing (and believe it’s dangerous?) when someone texts whilst driving”, incorporated into a targetted campaign, be a more effective message than a media release stating that 50% of young drivers surveyed admitted to using their phone whilst driving and then a series of quote talking about how dangerous it is and encouraging people to put their phones in the boot whilst driving (a la Brake last week)?

    Having said all that, the research above is invaluable in terms of reminding the powers that be that Road Safety Officers are needed within any local authority structure and in terms of helping us identify our target audience.

    Rebecca – Leeds
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    Various recent surveys of self reported behaviour behind the wheel suggest that although drivers know they shouldn’t use their phones whilst driving, a growing proportion do. Care does need to be taken in our campaign planning to ensure that we don’t portray the very behaviour we want to discourage, nor publicise the fact that such behaviour is now being undertaken by so many that it somehow “normalises” the very behaviour we are trying to discourage. Perhaps we should provide images of positive behaviour behind the wheel and give stats that re-inforce that as the social norm. I’m just getting a feeling that we may unwittingly be re-inforcing unwanted behaviour. I’d be interested to see the evaluation of these campaigns to see whether self reported behaviour improves or not. Maybe it shows just how careful we have to be when pre-testing our interventions to make sure the public understand them the way we mean them to be understood.

    Rob Smith Dorset
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