Multi-tasking motorists

A driver on a mobile phone

Significant numbers of UK drivers are risking safety, driving bans and affordable car insurance premiums by multi-tasking at the wheel.

Key points

  • Activities that distract you at the wheel compromise road safety
  • In addition to the danger, you risk picking up a driving conviction
  • Driving convictions can impact significantly on the price of your car insurance, or even lead to you losing your licence

A survey conducted on behalf of Gocompare.com saw 70% of UK drivers - potentially over 20 million motorists - admit to multi-tasking while behind the wheel of their vehicles.[1]

A total of 31% of those surveyed had spoken on the phone without using a hands-free kit, while 30% admitted that they have read a text message whilst driving.

It also seems that many would literally be lost without their mobiles when on the road as 23% confessed to using their smartphone for directions when driving.

Young drivers the most distracted

The 25-to-34-year-old age group appear to be the most distracted, 54% of those surveyed saying they had used the phone without a hands-free kit.mobile_iphone_insurance_grid

Even more alarming, 32% of that age group claimed to have read emails whilst they drove - while 22% had actually written emails whilst behind the wheel!

And it's not just phones that make the 25-to-34-year-old age group the most distracted drivers - 69% said that they had eaten when driving and 34% that they had smoked.

These bad habits can come at a price, as driving convictions can have a major impact on car insurance premiums.

For example, Gocompare.com found that a CU80 conviction (using a mobile phone whilst driving) could add around £90 to a 25-year-old driver's annual premium and a TS10 conviction (failure to comply with traffic light signals) could add the same. Having both however could cost them around £230 a year more.[2]

Bad habits or illegal habits?

"There's a considerable difference between bad habits behind the wheel and illegal ones," said car insurance expert Scott Kelly.

"While smoking or eating on the road may just be ill-advised activities, finishing off a report, sending emails or making a call whilst driving could land you in financial and legal trouble.

"The research found that 25-to-34-year-old drivers were most likely to be distracted by their phones.

"It's not surprising, then, that the data shows that drivers in this age bracket hold the highest proportion of convictions for using a handset at the wheel.

"Out of people who had a CU80 conviction (using a mobile phone while driving) 36% of them were 25-34 and for failing to comply at traffic light signals (a TS10 conviction) 30% were 25-33. These bad habits can come at a price.[3]

"We all feel like sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day and mobile technology means that we often end up working out of hours or on the hoof.

"But trying to multitask while driving is dangerous and, if you're caught, a conviction could see you face fines, points on your licence, higher insurance premiums and even a driving ban, which could affect your employment.

"It's ironic that people who can't switch off from work face the possibility of losing their job because of it."mp3_grid

UK drivers' top five bad habits behind the wheel[1]

  • Eating 69%
  • Smoking 34%
  • Speaking on the phone while holding it 31%
  • Reading a text message 30%
  • Using a smartphone for directions 23%

By Sean Davies