Parents admit to distracted driving
A new survey shows that parents are the most distracted drivers on our roads.
In the Ford Motor Company survey of drivers in New Zealand and Australia, 31 per cent of parents reported experiencing a distracted driving incident compared to 17 per cent of people without children.
Fathers, it seems, are most at fault. More than a quarter of them reported they were most likely to use their mobile phones while driving to make or receive a call or text without a hands-free system; 79 per cent said they eat or drink while driving; and 57 per cent said they would be distracted by another passenger.
The survey was conducted to provide data to help further understand distracted driving behaviour and attitudes.
‘‘Ford is committed to helping raise awareness of road safety and educating drivers on safe driving practices,’’ said Cynthia Williams, director, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, Ford Asia Pacific.
‘‘Phones are a great distraction normally, but behind the wheel they can be life threatening.’’
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes and between 20 and 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries.
Drivers using mobile phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers not using a mobile phone.
Using a phone while driving slows reaction times (notably braking reaction time, but also reaction to traffic signals), makes it difficult to keep in the correct lane, and to keep the correct following distances. Sending a text message takes about 10 seconds, which is the equivalent to 280 metres on a highway when a car is going 100kmh.
Not surprisingly, across all groups of respondents in the survey, mobile phones topped the list of in-car distractions, followed by other passengers, and eating or drinking. More than 43 per cent of Australia and New Zealand drivers say they try not to use their phones while driving, but end up doing so anyway.
Of the respondents who said they use their phone while driving, the most popular reasons were being stuck in traffic or at a stoplight (74 per cent), taking calls from friends or family (44 per cent) and answering work calls or emails (28 per cent). Boredom is also a key reason, with 22 per cent of respondents admitting to using their phones while driving for no reason other than they had ‘‘nothing better to do’’.
Fast-moving traffic and seeing a police officer (both 69 per cent) are the top scenarios when people said they would never use their phone while driving. Worryingly, these outweighed the safety of others, with just 49 per cent saying they wouldn’t use their phone when travelling with a baby or child and only 21 per cent when they were driving with their spouse in the car.
Using mobile phones and consuming food or drinks while driving are dangerous distractions.