A tweet at the wheel!

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Do you tweet, send a text, or check who’s called you whilst you drive? Do you always use a hands free device to do this?

A recent survey from Halfords found 48% of drivers confess to having used a handheld mobile to make a phone call when driving at least once in the past year whilst 36% do so once a week or more. As our need to remain in touch grows the law is being ignored more than ever. Some 35% of drivers admitted reading text messages, rising to 57% among under 25’s, whilst almost one in five (19%) have gone onto social networking sites or used the Internet. 

It’s not just reading a message or making a call that is an issue. Over half of drivers surveyed (53%) say that they will take their eyes off the road to look at who is calling from them and 45% admit they do so to see who has sent them a text message.

In contrast to these actions, the Onepoll online survey of 2,083 drivers found that almost nine in ten respondents said that using a handheld mobile phone while driving, created a danger to the motorist and other road users.

Illegally using a mobile without Bluetooth or a hands-free kit was ranked as the third most hated behaviour among other drivers, with inconsiderate driving and drink driving ranked higher.

The annual study by Halfords marks the sixth anniversary of tougher legal sanctions being introduced to discourage the use of hand-held phones, or similar devices, when driving – which saw fixed penalty fines rise to £60 and three penalty points being added to an offenders’ licences.

Dave Poulter, In-Car Technology Manager at Halfords, commented: “These findings paint a disturbing picture of what is happening on the UK’s roads and the emerging trend towards using mobile phones to link with social media while driving is extremely worrying.”

“There are a number of ways of staying connected legally – from bespoke hands-free kits, that read out text messages for you, to car stereos that incorporate hands-free capabilities as well enabling maps and traffic services to be accessed from mobiles safely.”

He went on: “This dangerous behaviour is simply unnecessary and easily avoided through the smart use of hands-free technology.”

Further to these results Road.CC reported that insurer LV= carried out an observational study in Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester, last year, to record mobile phone use close to pedestrian crossings and junctions.

LV= found that drivers using handheld mobiles engaged in ”reckless driving, speeding, and sudden braking,” one-third of them did not stop at pedestrian crossings (just 10 per cent of those not using mobiles failed to do so) and that they were twice as likely to demonstrate erratic driving behaviour.

When the LV= survey findings were published in December, Managing Director for Car Insurance John O’Roarke said: “It’s been nearly ten years since legislation banning the use of hand-held phones when driving was introduced, so it’s worrying to see that many motorists are continuing to use their devices when on the road.

“While it can seem tempting for people to use their phones at the wheel whilst driving they should always pull over to make a call, send a text, or browse the internet.”

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