A shocking four out of five (84%) Irish drivers admit to using electronic devices or consulting maps while driving compared to two thirds (66%) of drivers in the UK.
When it comes to sending text messages while at the wheel, a quarter (26%) of Irish drivers admit to this offence, exactly double the number in the UK (13%). That’s according to recent research commissioned by Aviva which looked at driving habits across 13 countries around the world.
The research, which was carried out by IPSOS Mori on behalf of Aviva, found that drivers in Ireland compare badly with our neighbours in the UK with almost half (45%) of Irish drivers admitting to making phone calls behind the wheel without a hands-free kit, while in the UK, the equivalent number was 20%. The numbers who report checking their social media while driving in Ireland is also more than double that of the UK (15% v 7%). In this respect, only Italian drivers are worse than Irish drivers among our European counterparts at 17%.
Speaking about the findings, Michael Bannon, Underwriting Manager with Aviva Motor Insurance, said: “It is shocking to find that so many drivers are taking such risks, given all that we know about road safety. Just a split second of distraction or lapse in concentration can result in death on the road. Technology has revolutionised our lives for the better in very many respects but when it comes to road safety its ability to distract can prove lethal.”
Key findings on driver habits and technology usage:
· 45% of Irish drivers admit making a phone call while driving compared to just 20% in the UK. That figure rises to 63% in the USA and as high as 76% in China.
· 26% of Irish drivers admit sending text messages while driving, compared to 13% in the UK, while Indonesian drivers are the most likely to send a text while driving at 53%.
· 15% of Irish drivers admit checking / posting to social media while driving. The UK had the lowest rate with 7% admitting to this practice, while Indian drivers fared the worst at 41%
· 11% of Irish drivers admit viewing or uploading images to social media while driving. This figure is as low as 4% in the UK and as high as 37% in India.
· 66% of Irish drivers admit choosing music while at the wheel. This figure falls to 45% in Spain while the country with the highest rate for this practice is China at 74%
· 35% of Irish drivers admit entering information into a satnav system while driving. This figure drops to 26% in India and goes up to 52% in Turkey.
When it comes to distractions on the road, technology was not the only contributing factor. The research also found that 40% of Irish drivers admit driving while excessively tired compared to 31% in the UK, while 60% of Irish drivers admit to eating or drinking while driving, the highest proportion in Europe.
Meanwhile being distracted by passengers, for example, children in the back of the car is a common experience among Irish drivers with 43% reporting it as a difficulty, the highest proportion of any European country in the survey. While the numbers admitting to putting on make-up while driving are small across all countries included in the survey, Ireland emerges as the highest in Europe with 7% confessing to doing their make up behind the wheel.
“When you get behind the wheel you are responsible not only for your own life but for everyone else you encounter on the road. With holiday season now well-underway, when families will take to the road for longer journeys than usual, this research should serve as a wake-up call. Put the mobile phones out of reach, set-up your satnav before beginning your journey, stop for a coffee if tiredness is getting the better of you and concentrate on the road. Driving is among the most hazardous activities we undertake in our lives. For all our sakes, we need to remember that stark reality at the start of every journey,” advises Michael Bannon.
Aviva have commissioned a series of pieces highlighting tips and advice for safer driving, as part of the Aviva Safety Drive campaign, which can be accessed here.