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‘Fear of missing out’ is influencing dangerous driving

FOMO (‘Fear of Missing Out’) is putting road users at risk as motorists feel drawn to check their smartphones regardless of the risks of distracted driving.

Mobile phone on table

DfT data for 2014 indicates nearly 500 incidents involving the driver using a mobile

So says Aviva as its research identifies drivers’ addiction to checking social networking sites and reading messages on their phones while driving.

According to the analysis, more than four in 10 drivers admit to using their mobiles while driving, of which one in 10 (11%) are using Facebook.

One in six (16%) are using their phones for messenger apps or texting, while one in eight (12%) are emailing.

According to Dr Lee Hadlington, senior lecturer at De Montfort University, constantly being connected is now part of our day-to-day life, and Hadlington describes this as receiving ‘mini rewards’ for regularly checking our devices for social updates.

Dr Hadlington added: “Any individual who has a smartphone has the potential to be distracted by smartphone technology – the answer to this question is perhaps a lengthy one – app notifications drive individuals into the ‘push economy’ (that’s my term) where we are constantly being sent new updates etc – most individuals will keep these on for important things like communications and social networking, so when they get a message they want to respond quickly.

“Anyone who does more than one thing at any time runs the risk of losing focus on one or both tasks.”

In response, Sgt Neil Dewson-Smyth from Cheshire Police, who’s currently running a safe driving social campaign, warned: “Some statements suggest that to look away from the road, read a comment, look back and regain full awareness takes about 5 seconds. At 40mph the distance covered is equivalent to the length of a football pitch. blindfolded. Some are looking at their phone so often that, based on this 5-second rule, they may never regain full awareness before they are looking back at their phone. This suggests situational awareness is completely diminished.”

To read the Aviva blog on FOMO and distracted driving, click here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.