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Are you driven to distraction?

Motorists put social media addiction before safety, claims new research.

A YouGov survey commissioned by legal firm Simpson Millar LLP has found that:

  • 18% of respondents have read a message
  • One in six (17%) have made or accepted a call without a hands free kit
  • 13% have sent a message
  • 8% admit to using social media behind the wheel
  • 26% of those admit that the desire to keep in touch with people is one of the main reasons they have flouted the law
  • Less than half (47%) of respondents know the current legal penalties

The government is currently undertaking a public consultation to consider tougher penalties for motorists who use a mobile phone while driving. Yet, many drivers remain unaware of – and flout – the existing rules putting themselves and others at significant risk.

The facts

It is illegal to use any hand-held mobile device whilst driving even when the car is stationary in traffic.

Motorists currently face three penalty points on their driving licence and a £100 fine.

If the latest government plans are approved, offending motorists will face four penalty points (six points for HGV drivers) and a £150 fine.

Most first-time offenders will still be offered Driver Awareness courses to change their behaviour.

“Any task that involves holding a device, looking at it, and interacting with it during driving will adversely affect driving performance,” said Shaun Helman, Head of Transport Psychology at Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).

“We recently found that between 10-30% of road accidents in the EU are at least partly caused by distraction, and social media is an increasing risk in this area.

“Obviously some people, some of the time, value their social connectivity more than they value their safety and the safety of others.”

Julie Robertson of Simpson Millar added: “Whilst social media has become a large part of our everyday lives, it is important for drivers not to engage in social media activities or use their telephone whilst driving due to the dangers this can cause.

“Drivers must educate themselves of the dangers of distracted driving, but also be aware of their legal rights when they do find themselves in trouble.”

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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