Posted on: 17/07/2014
A fifth of motorists do not know it is illegal to check social media websites on a phone while driving, a survey for motoring group the RAC suggested.
A shocking 61% of motorists still have not got the message that texting at the wheel of a stationary car with the engine on is against the law despite the fact it has been illegal since 2003 for drivers to use a hand-held mobile phone. And 21% don't realise that it's illegal to check Facebook and Twitter while driving.
In fact, there is greater awareness about the illegality of the new offences of tailgating or middle lane hogging on the motorway than texting whilst stopped in traffic, with a nevertheless disturbing 31% and 42% respectively, not knowing they have been outlawed.
With this level of apparent ignorance about the law, it is perhaps slightly less surprising that more than half of motorists (53%) report regularly seeing other people texting in stationary traffic during half or some of their journeys, while 29% claim to see this during most journeys.
In terms of talking on a hand-held phone while driving, three quarters (75%) of motorists report regularly observing other people doing this, with 44% saying they see this happening during most of their car journeys.
"Well I'd never do it!"
There is, however, a big difference in what motorists see being done by others and what they are prepared to admit to doing themselves with just 8% admitting to using a hand-held phone whilst driving. Motorists with less than 10 years’ experience are more likely to admit to talking on a hand-held mobile phone illegally (16%) compared to just 4% of those who have been driving over 25 years.
And, when it comes to drivers owning up to texting in stationary vehicles on the road, only 7% of motorists say they do, though this figure almost doubles to 15% for 17 to 24-year-olds.
According to the research only 53% of motorists strongly disagree that it is safe to use a mobile phone while sat in traffic lights or stuck in congestion, and over a quarter (26%) think it safe to text and look at social media sites when stationary with the engine running; behaviour that is blatantly illegal.
There seems to be a perception among many motorists - rightly or wrongly - that they won’t get caught if they use their mobile phones while driving. More than half (51%) believe it is unlikely that they will be caught sending texts while their car is stationary. And, four in 10 (42%) motorists also think it is unlikely they will be caught texting while driving, with 16% believing it is 'extremely unlikely’ they will get caught.
Whilst motorists don’t believe that technology is as big a distraction as other passengers, or changing the CD when driving, 16% of them indicate that looking at their smartphone to read something can be an irresistible distraction; and this rises to 25% amongst company car drivers. Just 11% of motorists admit that texting is a key distraction while driving; however, this increases to 16% of 17 to 24-year-olds and one in five (20%) of motorists living in London - the texting capital.
REMINDER: The law regarding in-car mobile phone use says it is an offence for anyone to use any type of hand-held communications device when driving. The definition of driving includes whenever the engine is switched on, even if the vehicle is stationary. It is therefore an offence to use a hand-held mobile phone or smartphone when the vehicle is stopped at traffic lights, is stationary in a traffic jam or is parked with the engine running.
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