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Technology and social media perceived as bigger driver distractions than drink-driving

That’s the finding of the Institute of Advanced Motorist’s (IAM) first major survey into safety culture. Published today (6 November), the Safety Culture Index report is a study of more than 2,000 UK motorists’ attitudes to driving safety and behaviour on our roads.

The report has found that while technology will form a fundamental part of improving road safety, it also poses some risks, in particular driver distraction; 77% of people say it is now a bigger problem than three years ago. This compares to just 23% of people feeling drink driving is a bigger threat than three years ago.

Respondents said text messaging and social media are the two biggest factors threatening their personal safety, with 93% and 92% respectively claiming these to be a ‘very or somewhat serious’ threat.

The next two factors they say are threats to their personal safety are drink and drug driving, at 90% and 89% respectively.

And while most people feel talking on a hand-held mobile phone is unacceptable in their own locality (just 15% said they found it acceptable), some 64% say talking on a hands-free mobile phone is acceptable.

Motorists are also much more worried about speeding in residential streets than they are about speeding on motorways – 86% believing this to be a very or somewhat serious threat; 24% higher than motorways.

This is borne out by the fact 61% feel it’s acceptable to drive 10mph over the speed limit on the motorway, just 27% feel it’s acceptable to drive 5mph over the limit on a residential street.

The IAM said the report highlights the key areas of road safety and police enforcement priority that will command the highest levels of public support.

IAM president and 1992 Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell CBE said: “The good news is that the vast majority of drivers do value safety and they want to feel even safer on the road in the future. They take speeding and drink-driving very seriously and are happy to support even stronger legislation even if it may stop them doing things they admit to doing themselves. We do feel we can offer real-world solutions to those drivers who through over, or under, confidence feel stressed on our busy roads.”

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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.