Disturbing new findings about phone use in cars reveals that young drivers aren't just distracted by texting while driving, but everything else a phone can do as well.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists in Britain, which is like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration across the pond, asked 500 drivers of all ages about how they use their cellphones while driving. One in five drivers admitted to taking a selfie in the car, with motorists between the ages of 25 and 35 most likely to mug for the camera while on the road. Women took car selfies at a much lower rate than men. One in eight men had taken selfies in the car while only one in twenty women had.

While selfies are annoying and distracting, many motorists admitted to much more dangerous activities. One in twelve motorists said they had used Skype or FaceTime to video call while driving. Seven percent of drivers said they watched television while behind the wheel.

Such irresponsible behavior isn't exclusive to the UK. Where there are cellphones, there are distracted drivers. A recent study by AT&T found 33 percent of 2,000 drivers surveyed worked on email from their phone while on the road. One in ten Americans used video chat and 14 percent used the photo editing app Instagram. In the US, 3,154 people were killed in car crashes involving distracted drivers in 2013; a 6.7-percent decrease in the number of fatalities recorded in 2012, according to NHTSA. However, the rate of people being injured is going up. Distracted driving crashes injured 424,000 people in 2013, which is an increase from the 421,000 people who were injured the year prior.
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The new driving dangers - selfies, video calls or just watching the telly

23 July 2015

New research by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) reveals the shocking extent to which drivers use their phones and tablets to take selfies, make video calls and watch videos while driving.

The findings come from research commissioned this month exclusively by the IAM, which asked 500 drivers how they use their smartphones and tablets in the car. (1)

Results show that nine per cent of drivers admitted to taking a selfie while driving 'in the last month'. This increases to 15 per cent of young drivers aged 18-24 and 19 per cent of 25-35 year olds. Women are less selfie obsessed than men, with just five per cent of women citing they have taken a selfie while driving compared to 12 per cent of men.

Eight per cent of drivers admitted to driving while using a video-calling application such as FaceTime and Skype to make and receive video calls, rising to 16 per cent among 18 to 24 year olds.
An IAM study in 2012 showed that using a smartphone while driving is more dangerous than driving at the legal alcohol limit or when using cannabis. Drivers have much slower reaction times, difficulty staying in the same lane and are less able to adapt to even slowly changing circumstances. (2)

IAM's chief executive officer, Sarah Sillars said: "Everyone knows how dangerous using a smartphone or tablet is while driving. That's why it's shocking to see new trends like taking selfies and making video calls becoming common practice.

"Safe driving is everyone's responsibility and more must be done to catch drivers using these devices dangerously by increasing the fines and points for smartphone and tablet use at the wheel – there is simply no excuse.

"Campaigns must also be introduced that raise awareness of the prevalence of the issue in society and make this behaviour socially unacceptable as drink-driving".

Other findings include:

Seven per cent of drivers admit to watching videos and stream catch-up television on the road, rising to 13 per cent of drivers aged 18-24 and 15 per cent of 25-32 year olds.

Eighteen per cent of drivers have accessed the internet using their smartphone or tablet, rising to 27 per cent of drivers aged 18-24 and 34 per cent of drivers aged 25-34.

Despite this, the number of drivers given penalty points for using a smartphone at the wheel fell by more than 40 per cent in 2014. (3)

1. Please see attached table of figures showing how drivers use their smartphones or tablets while driving.
2. Don't poke me I'm driving: A simulator study on smartphone use by the IAM, 2012. http://www.iam.org.uk/media-and-research/research/reports/20279-dont-poke-me-im-driving.
Fewer drivers punished for mobile phone use: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32337990.
3. The IAM is the UK's largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 90,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving, motorcycling and cycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.

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