How often are you distracted while driving?

Blog post posted on 24/07/22 |

We all know that in an ideal world our eyes and minds would be 100% on our driving, 100% of the time.

However, in the real world we are easily distracted by all sorts of things – from children or pets in the back seat, the radio, mobile phones, other road users and, increasingly, in-car technology, such as infotainment systems.

In fact, a recent IAM RoadSmart Twitter poll found that just under half (44.4%) of respondents said they find infotainment systems distracting, while 42.1% found other road users distracting; and research by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line insurance found that 91% of drivers believe adjusting their satnav is a distraction.

Distractions impair our ability to react quickly and could have serious consequences for you, the driver, other passengers - plus of course other road users and pedestrians.

New legislation

The law also recognises the danger that being distracted while driving can pose. While it’s been illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone since 2003, in March this year the law changed yet again in response to the fact that mobile devices are now capable of so many more things than making and receiving calls and text messages.

The update now means it’s also illegal to unlock any handheld smart device to pretty much anything on it, including accessing the internet, using any app, checking notifications, or accessing any stored data, such as files, playlists, photos, or messages. There are exemptions are when you need to use your phone in an emergency, to make a contactless payment for goods or services – such as at a road toll, and also using a phone for navigation. However, it MUST be in a cradle, not your hand.

Here are some IAM RoadSmart tips to help you avoid distractions while you’re driving:

  • Set your destination on your satnav before you start your engine to avoid trying to key in details while you’re moving or even in stationery traffic.
  • Avoid playing with infotainment settings while you’re driving. Instead select your favourite radio station and load the CD play before you set off.
  • Newer mobile phones include a setting that will limit notifications whilst driving. If yours doesn’t, either turn it off, put it in the boot, or switch to aircraft mode so you’re not tempted to check it. If you need to make a call or send a text stop at a service station or in a layby.
  • If you’re faced with an emergency and you must make or receive a call while driving, preferably pull over and stop the car. Always ensure you use hands-free mode when moving.
  • Avoid eating and drinking while you’re driving because dropped food or a spilled drink will mean your mind isn’t on the road.
  • If you’re feeling tired, stop at the next services to take a break. Have something to eat and drink, stretch your legs and if necessary, take a nap.
  • Passengers can a great accompaniment on a long journey, but don’t let them distract you; if children are playing up in the back of the car, stop as soon as you can to calm them down. Try to give them suitable games or toys to help keep them occupied during the journey, plus frequent stops for drinks, snacks and the toilet will help prevent problems.
  • When driving on busy roads, try not to let the actions of other motorists distract you; concentrate on keeping a safe distance between you and the vehicles in front, and increase that distance if the vehicles behind you are too close.

Still not sure? IAM RoadSmart’s 75 minute on road module provides you with one to one training around the most effective ways to expect the unexpected and remain focused on the drive. Find out more here.