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Distracted Drivers Risk Devastating Crashes

Too many younger drivers are putting their own lives, and those of other road users, at risk by texting, using apps or going online on their mobiles when they are behind the wheel, according to new research by Brake and Direct Line.

According to the road safety charity, more than half (55%) of 25-34-year-old drivers questioned admitted they had sent or read a text message on their mobile while behind the wheel of their car in the last year.

Despite it being illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone at all while driving, more than four in 10 (42%) revealed they send or read messages at least once a week.

One in five young drivers (18-24) confirmed they regularly text and/or instant message when they are behind the wheel.

Just under half of drivers (49%) aged 25-34 admitted they sometimes go online or use apps (other than sat nav apps) while driving. Almost a third of drivers in that age group said they do that several times a week at least.

Driving is a highly unpredictable and risky activity, so it requires full concentration at all times, says Brake. Drivers who divide their attention between their phone and the road are significantly increasing their risk of causing a devastating crash.

A study of in-vehicle video footage estimated that 22% of crashes could be caused, at least in part, by driver distraction. It also showed that drivers who perform a secondary task at the wheel are two to three times more likely to crash.

“Reading a text message is not a matter of life and death but taking your eyes off the road could well be,” commented Rob Miles, director of car insurance at Direct Line. “It’s simple – wait until your journey is finished or you are safely parked somewhere before you use your phone.”

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