By: Lisa Harper
A recent survey conducted by HPI has revealed some startling statistics about our driving habits. Take a look at some of the most common activities drivers admitted to whilst driving:
• Drinking a hot drink – 31%
• Reaching behind the seat to grab something – 19%
• Taking an item of clothing off (jacket or coat) – 17%
• Eating – 16%
• Applying make-up – 8%
Whilst quite a few people admitted to participating in a ‘bad habit’ behind the wheel only 3% felt their activity was dangerous. However a study conducted by the University of Leeds has shown that there was a direct impact on driving when carrying out another activity at the same time. For example people who took a sip from a hot drink whilst behind the wheel were shown to be 22% slower and 18% more likely to show erratic lane discipline.
Many of us know that there has been a crackdown on mobile phone use in cars with it now carrying a penalty of 6 points and a fine of up to £200. However the activities listed above fall into a bit of a grey area and whilst not illegal they can produce situations in which you can be prosecuted. For example if when carrying out any of the listed activities you were considered to present a danger then you could be prosecuted for careless driving.
The HPI survey found that 18-34 year olds were the guiltiest of distracted driving. A massive 88% of this age group admitted to drinking a hot drink whilst driving and a further 8% admitted to brushing their teeth whilst behind the wheel. More worrying is that 15% admitted to watching videos on their phone when driving. If caught it would result a £200 fine and six points on your licence.
Other inadvisable activities include wearing headphones when driving. Headphones reduce external sound sources which could delay reaction times to certain situations and could potentially result in an accident. Again this falls into a grey area in terms of the law and in the event of an accident then judgement would fall to police as to whether this was a result of wearing headphones.
Anything that takes your attention from the road could be a potential hazard, so always try to reduce your risk to distraction:
• Make sure you are comfortable before you set off, removing coat or jacket before you start moving.
• If you’re thirsty or hungry then make a stop, pull over at a service station and take the time to replenish yourself.
• To reduce distraction from your phone, place it away in your glovebox or if available on your phone activate ‘driving mode’ so you don’t get notifications whilst on the move. If you do need to take calls on the go make sure you have a fully hands free system that allows you to make and answer calls without touching your phone.
• Finally make sure you give yourself time in a morning to get breakfast.
How many of the listed bad habits are you guilty of? Would making any of the activities illegal make you think twice? Why not head to our Facebook page to see how many people have owned up!
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