“Multitasking” drivers are risking disaster

IAM RoadSmart is warning that there is no such thing as "multitasking" while driving.
IAM RoadSmart is warning that there is no such thing as "multitasking" while driving.

Motorists are being urged by the UK’s largest road safety charity to keep their cool to avoid distraction and potential disaster.

Styling hair, telling off children as well as eating, drinking and smoking while behind the wheel have been revealed as some of the most frequent distractions encountered by drivers.

IAM RoadSmart recently surveyed more than 2,300 visitors to its website to reveal some of the worst motoring distractions drivers have spotted on the road with the three most frequently observed activities being smoking, eating and drinking - all of which have been observed by more than 95 per cent of those surveyed.

But more surprisingly ‘telling off children’ and ‘styling hair’ were also high on the list, being witnessed by 82 per cent and 55 per cent of respondents.

Around 63 per cent said they had seen a driver look at a laptop or tablet screen. Further down the chart were those trying to control a pet (seen by 46 per cent) reading a book at the wheel (seen by three per cent) and shaving (seen by 24 per cent).

Many of these distracting behaviours are being witnessed time and time again on nearly every journey. Of those surveyed a quarter saw someone drinking at the wheel every day and a fifth saw someone eating. One in seven said they had seen people looking at their laptops or tablets every day, and one in 10 daily saw parents telling off children while driving.

And 57 per cent said they had been affected by drivers who had been distracted for any of the reasons seen in the survey.

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart chief executive officer, said: “We understand that the pressures of modern life mean we cannot always keep our cool, especially when children and pets often don’t understand the concept of ‘concentration.’

“But it’s exactly in these situations that a tragedy can occur. Talking to any passengers can wait until there are no other potential problems around. Pets should always be securely transported in their carriers.

“As far as the other bad habits revealed in the survey, these are all things that should be done at either end of the journey – not during it. Otherwise they can be a major distraction to the driver.”

IAM RoadSmart has created a short film starring ex-Formula 1 test driver and current Aston Martin racer Darren Turner which shows exactly how distracting children, pets and mobile phones can be, even for a professional driver. The video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldNOskBcm90

Sarah added: “We need to persuade drivers there is no such thing as ‘multitasking’ when it comes to motoring. Driving needs to be the sole activity going on whilst at the wheel. Everything else can wait.”