Drivers distracted by social media, IAM study finds

Technology and social media provide the biggest distraction to drivers, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorist’s (IAM) first major survey into safety culture.

The Safety Culture Index report was launched last week by the IAM, and is a study of more than 2,000 UK motorists’ attitudes to driving safety and behaviour on our roads.

The report has found that while technology will form a fundamental part of improving road safety, it also poses some risks, in particular driver distraction – 77% of people say it is now a bigger problem than three years ago. This compares to just 23% of people feeling drink driving is a bigger threat than three years ago.

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “This report is a crucial barometer of what drivers are really thinking. It is all about seeing what issues and factors the public see as important in their lives, and using that information to influence their behaviour.

“Understanding the issues drivers see as important when it comes to road safety is essential for establishing how best to communicate with them and so in turn to achieve behaviour change, on both a local and national level.”

Those surveyed said text messaging and social media are the two biggest factors threatening their personal safety, with 93% and 92% respectively claiming these to be a ‘very or somewhat serious’ threat.

The next two factors they say are threats to their personal safety are drink and drug driving, at 90% and 89% respectively.

And while most people feel talking on a hand-held mobile phone is unacceptable in their own locality (just 15% said they found it acceptable), some 64% say talking on a hands-free mobile phone is acceptable.

Motorists are also much more worried about speeding in residential streets than they are about speeding on motorways – 86% believing this to be a very or somewhat serious threat; 24% higher than motorways.

This is borne out by the fact 61% feel it’s acceptable to drive 10mph over the speed limit on the motorway, just 27% feel it’s acceptable to drive 5mph over the limit on a residential street.

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