Driver distraction due to mobile phone use could escalate as lockdown restrictions ease as a result of good behaviour habits being lost during the coronavirus pandemic.
The warning comes from IAM RoadSmart, which is reminding drivers to refocus on the road after weeks spent reliant on screens and phones for communication with family, friends and work colleagues.
Research by the charity for 2020 shows mobile phone use is already seen as one of the biggest threats to road safety for nine out of 10 motorists. IAM RoadSmart’s annual Driving Safety Culture Survey, now in its fifth year, surveyed just over 2,000 motorists and found that while the majority (90%) of respondents claimed not to use their phones while driving themselves, 70% say other drivers’ distraction from talking or texting on a mobile phone is more of a problem than it was three years ago. Just 6% believe the problem has reduced.
And with technology companies reporting that demand for data has risen substantially during lockdown, IAM RoadSmart believes that a new dependency on screen use could cause a rise in dangerous driving behaviours.
The charity is concerned that phone-loving drivers could ignore driving safety legislation and continue to use their devices when they get back behind the wheel.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, said: “Being connected to family, friends and work colleagues is important, but nothing should be more important than keeping your full attention on the task of driving. This is even more important after an extended period off the roads.”
Interestingly, this year’s Driving Safety Culture Safety found that congestion is now seen as the biggest issue on roads, with 75% of respondents thinking it’s more of an issue than three years ago. This is followed by driver distraction at 70%; a reverse of their positions in 2018.
Close behind at just over two-thirds (67%) is aggressive driving followed by driving under the influence of drugs (61%).
More than half (58%) mentioned aggressive cyclists are a bigger problem compared to three years ago followed by speeding at 55%.
Almost half of the sample (47%) believe the issue of drink driving is the same compared to three years ago.
To download the full report, click here.