Millennials Admit They Check Social Media While Driving

Drivers Are Still Using their Mobile Phones While Driving


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By Cai Bradley

on Friday 3 May 2019


Teenager using mobile phone while driving

New research from Privilege Car Insurance has revealed that a concerning number of millennials are now unable to resist checking Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on their mobile phones while driving.

23% of 18 to 34-year olds admitted being guilty of taking a look at their social media profiles while driving, despite the risk of six penalty points on their driver’s licence, a fine of up to £1,000, and most crucially, being a danger to themselves and others on the road.

People using their mobile phone while driving were responsible for 33 deaths on UK roads in 2017, according to government figures. That’s one person killed every ten days due to drivers using their mobile, a truly worrying statistic.

This begs the question; what’s so important about social media that drivers feel the need to check their phone while driving? Has social media become an inescapable addiction, or are we simply not aware enough of the dangers and implications of browsing on a mobile phone while driving?

Here, we discuss the most common types of driving distractions, how we can avoid giving in to them, and the dangers of driving while using your phone.

Distractions While Driving

The typical definition of being ‘distracted’ can be rather vague, but in this instance, it essentially refers to being in control of a vehicle while engaging in other activities, and can be split into three categories.

The three types of ‘distracted driving’ include:

  • Visual (taking your eyes of the road)

  • Manual (letting go of the steering wheel to do something else)

  • Cognitive (focusing on something other than driving)

Privilege notes various common driving distractions that affect UK drivers, such as eating or drinking, driving with a dog (or dogs) in the car without securing them, fiddling with a sat-nav while on the move, and of course, texting, taking phone calls, and using social media.

These causes of distracted driving all impact the driver’s focus and can therefore put themselves and other road-users in danger, but what are the statistics?

Distracted Driving Statistics UK

Statistics indicate that 72% of UK drivers multi-task while being behind the wheel, so it goes without saying that bad driving habits aren’t limited to millennials.

Drivers of all ages and demographics are distracted on the road for various reasons, as illustrated by the Privilege study, where a third of the total sample noted that they had been distracted by eating or drinking while driving in the last year.

As part of the same study, an alarming 33% of female drivers also declared that they had checked their hair and make-up in their vehicle’s mirrors while driving, and a third of millennials revealed that they had previously been distracted and slowed down to look at a road traffic accident.

In short, distracted driving statistics in the UK are rather worrying, and a large number of us lose focus on the road for a variety of reasons, with one of the most noteworthy being social media and the use of mobile phones.

How to Avoid Distractions While Driving

It’s difficult to know exactly how to prevent being distracted while driving, but a good starting point is to be aware of possible distractions (which is the main reason Privilege conducted its research; to raise awareness). Once we’re aware of what causes us to be distracted, we can try to avoid it.

We could also be encouraged to take more care behind the wheel by becoming more aware of the consequences of these driving distractions, whether it’s a fine, a driving ban, or a serious injury to yourself and others.

Avoiding distractions can be as simple as leaving our mobile phones on silent and in our pockets, or simply resisting the temptation to do make-up in our mirrors, but it could stop you getting a hefty fine or even causing an accident.

Using a Phone While Driving

It’s rightfully become common knowledge that one of the most dangerous (yet most common) bad habits while driving is the use of mobile phones, whether it’s texting, making phone calls, or browsing social media. We’re now constantly reminded that we shouldn’t use our phones while driving, but accidents caused by drivers on their phones are still highly frequent in the UK.

Fine for Using Mobile Phone While Driving

If the police spot you using a hand-held mobile phone while driving, you will automatically be hit with a fixed penalty notice of three points on your licence and a fine of £60 (best case scenario).

However, your case could go to court (depending on its seriousness) and you could even face disqualification, as well as a £1,000 maximum fine. It’s also worth noting that drivers of buses and goods vehicles can be charged an even higher £2,500 maximum fine.

Using a Mobile Phone Whilst Stationary

Despite the vehicle not being in motion, it is still an offence to use hand-held mobile phones whilst stationary if the car is on a public road and the engine is running. For the avoidance of doubt, it’s easier for everybody if you simply put your mobile phone in your pocket or bag before you enter the vehicle. 

Is it Illegal to Use Your Phone as a Sat Nav?

While it’s not illegal to use navigation apps, motorists are at-risk of being prosecuted if they hold their handset while driving. You must have hands-free access to your mobile phone, which includes a Bluetooth headset, voice command, a dashboard holder, or a windscreen mount.

Remember, the law still applies if you are stopped at traffic lights, queuing in traffic, or even supervising a learner driver.

Social Media and Millennials: The Research

The head of Privilege Car Insurance, Charlotte Fielding, stated her particular concern about the number of people using social media while driving, and hopes that the study can identify UK drivers’ bad habits in order to create awareness of the problems, before trying to eliminate them.

The research conducted by Privilege outlines some worrying statistics, as we mentioned previously, with almost a quarter of 18 to 34-year olds being unable to resist the urge of checking their social media pages while driving.

As respondents of all ages and demographics also admitted to sending texts behind the wheel every day, there’s an obvious and contemporary problem with drivers using their mobile phones while behind the wheel in the UK.

If you were involved in a car accident where the other driver was on their mobile phone, and you don't know whether you were at-fault or not, don't hesitate to get in touch with us today to see how we can help you.

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