Driver Distraction

Driver Distraction

Key Facts:

  • According to STATS19, 2,946 (or 3%) of collisions involving injuries (fatal, serious and slight) in 2015 in GB involved some form of distraction from within the vehicle (RRCGB 2015, DfT, 2016). This is likely to be an underrepresentation due to the difficulties in coding distraction as a contributory factor after the event.

  • The most recent observational count of mobile phone use whilst driving found that 1.6% of drivers in England and Scotland were observed using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving (DfT, 2015). Drivers were more likely to be holding the phone in their hand (1.1%) rather than holding it to their ear (0.5%). A higher proportion of drivers were observed using a hand-held mobile phone when stationary (2.3%) than in moving traffic (1.6%).

  • An observational study conducted by Sullman (2012) on UK public roads found 14.4% of drivers to be involved in some form of concurrent distraction. Talking to passenger(s) was the most common distraction (7.4%), followed by mobile phone use (2.2%), smoking (2.2%) and eating (1.1%).

  • The RAC report that 75% of motorists regularly observe other drivers speaking on their mobile phone while driving, although only 8% of drivers admit doing it themselves. Meanwhile, 53% of drivers report seeing other drivers texting or checking social media, with only 7% of drivers admitting doing it themselves (however, 15% of younger drivers aged between 17 and 24 admitted it) (RAC, 2014).

  • Although experimental research has shown that phone conversations impair driving performance, it is difficult to quantify the risk of this impairment because the reference is usually to ‘normal’ driving without using a phone. ‘Worse than normal driving’ does not necessarily equate to increased collision risk. Burns et al. (2006) therefore compared the impairment caused by using hands-free and hand-held mobile phone to driving while intoxicated at the drink drive limit – a level of impairment related to crash involvement. This simulator study found that certain aspects of driving performance were impaired more by having a mobile phone conversation (hands-free or hand-held) than having a blood alcohol level of 80mg/100ml.

  • The 100-Car naturalistic driving study found that nearly 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near-crashes involved driver inattention (due to distraction, fatigue, or just looking away) just prior to (i.e. within 3 seconds) the onset of the conflict (Dingus et al., 2006).

  • Many years of research have gone into studying driver distraction but difficulties arise when trying to compare studies because of a lack of a common definition, or differences in the types of additional tasks researched.

  • There is still some debate regarding the relationship between driver distraction and driver inattention, although there appears to be some consensus that driver distraction is just one of a number of processes that can lead to driver inattention.

  • Driver distraction can be further defined as occurring due to attention being diverted by driving related tasks (e.g. sat nav) or non-driving related tasks (e.g. mobile phone use). It can also be defined as internal to the car or external to the car, and further defined by the type of attention necessary (e.g. visual, auditory, biomechanical, cognitive).

  • Date Added: 27 Mar 2015, 04:53 PM
  • Last Update: 26 Jan 2017, 03:33 PM