21% of Motorists Think It’s Okay to Check Facebook Whilst Driving

According to the RAC, over a fifth of van drivers and motorists are unaware that it’s illegal to check Twitter and Facebook whilst driving. The same study also found that 12% were unaware that driving whilst texting is illegal as well.

On top of this, 61% did not realise the illegality of texting at the wheel of a stationary vehicle in which the engine was still running.

This is largely because the legal definition of driving includes “whenever the engine is switched on“, regardless of if the vehicle is moving or not. And this is why it is therefore illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone or smartphone when the vehicle is stopped at traffic lights, is stationary in a traffic jam or is parked with the engine running.

Some more statistics from the RAC report:

  • 26% think it’s safe to text/look at social media sites when stationary (with engine running)
  • 47% think it’s okay to use a mobile phone when stuck in traffic
  • 31% are unaware it’s illegal to tailgate
  • 42% are unaware it’s illegal to hog the middle lane on the motorway
  • 53% of motorists report regularly seeing other people texting in stationary traffic
  • 75% report regularly seeing other people talking on hand-held phones whilst driving
  • 51% believe they’re unlikely to be caught texting whilst their car is stationary
  • 27% admit to feeling side-tracked when they hear their mobile ringtone

(27%) admit to feeling side-tracked when they hear a mobile phone ring-tone and this rises to 40% of younger motorists aged 17 to 24.

While motorists don’t believe that technology is as big a distraction as other passengers, or changing the CD when driving, 16% of them indicate that looking at their smartphone to read something can be an irresistible distraction; and this rises to 25% among company car drivers.

Just 11% of motorists admit that texting is a key distraction while driving. However, this increases to 16% of 17 to 24-year-olds and one in five (20%) of motorists living in London.

David Bizley, technical director at RAC, said: “British motorists regard themselves as law-abiding and out of 35.8 million driving licence holders in the UK, around three million (less than one in 10) drivers have points on their licence. However, more than one million drivers have been convicted of using a hand-held mobile phone while driving since 2003, when it was made explicitly illegal.

“This prompts the question as to whether motorists are deliberately flouting the law or whether they are just unaware of exactly what is, and what isn’t legal.”

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